Hacks For Finding A Bathroom In New York City

From the very public open-air urinals in the Netherlands to Japan's transparent restrooms, using public bathrooms is part of any vacation or day out. However, restrooms can sometimes seem non-existent in New York City, especially when you're pretty desperate to find one. This lack of bathrooms isn't in your imagination: there are around 1,160 public bathrooms for a city with a population of around 8.5 million. This means that you're going to want to plan ahead a little if you're visiting NYC. Luckily, we've got some incredible hacks for finding a public bathroom in the city — and they'll probably even be clean.

Our first tip is to head to a park to find a public bathroom. The NYC Parks website has a map showing all of the public bathrooms in parks across the city, from Manhattan's Central Park to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Bryant Park has some of NYC's most famous bathrooms: classical music, flowers, and bathroom attendants make for a pleasant experience. You can click on the bathroom to check whether it's accessible or not — unfortunately, not all are. Gothamist has a list of some of the best accessible bathrooms in NYC. Bryant Park makes it onto their list, but one of their favorites seems to be the indie bookstore Bluestockings Cooperative on the Lower East Side.

Know your options

Many tourist attractions and large buildings have bathrooms available to the public. The Oculus Building in the World Trade Center, the main branch of the New York Public Library, and Rockefeller Center all have bathrooms you can use. Public libraries in general have bathrooms, and Gothamist reports that a library manager confirmed you don't need a library card to use a restroom there. Transportation hubs like Grand Central Station and Port Authority Bus Terminal also have public restrooms (the bathrooms in the bus terminal are, perhaps shockingly, really nice, according to The New York Times.) If you find yourself in Chelsea, the lovely High Line and Chelsea Market offer toilets, and even on Wall Street, the Federal Hall National Memorial offers desperate tourists a place to go.

You can also usually use the bathrooms in cafés and fast food restaurants like Starbucks and McDonald's. However, Starbucks may soon be ending its open-bathroom policy, so you may need to buy something to use the restrooms there in the future. Plus, not all food service businesses in NYC have restrooms. This might seem unusual, but food service establishments with fewer than 20 seats are not required to have a customer bathroom in the city.

More tips on finding bathrooms

Tripadvisor users answering the question "Public Bathrooms In NYC?" in the New York City forum recommend using the restrooms in hotels, with one user suggesting looking for the hotel bar or restaurant as there are often bathrooms near there. Just walk in as though you belong. In the same forum, another likes the bathrooms in department stores like Nordstrom Rack and Bloomingdale's and in the chain bookstore Barnes & Noble. One tip that many people don't know is that if you ask, you can use the bathrooms in New York City Police Department stations. You can also often find bathrooms in churches all over the city.

But how exactly can you be sure you're going to find a bathroom in NYC? Where are these department stores, hotel lobbies, and tourist attractions with easy-to-access restrooms? You can find the answers on an incredible map created by Dr. Wansoo, a Rutgers University professor, who set out to spread knowledge about the whereabouts of the city's public bathrooms. Bookmark the map to make sure a bathroom is always there when you need it.