It’s summer in New York City, and you remembered your hat, your sunblock, and your water bottle. Suddenly you realize you kept so well hydrated, nature’s call cannot be ignored a minute longer.

Most tourist destinations have adequate toilets, but if you get caught between points of interest, head for the closest Avenue and find a logo you recognize.

Technically, any eating establishment that offers in -house dining (has at least one table and chair) must offer bathrooms, but floor space in the Big Apple is a premium. Many bagel shops or dumpling spots have only the most minimal water closet, and it’s for employees only.

Anyway, you and your bladder don’t have time to learn “let me use the toilet or I’ll call my lawyer” in 17 languages. Even if they do offer toilets, the restaurant may have signs posted that they are for customer use only. If you have time to be a customer, problem solved.

You’ll be relieved to know that McDonald’s always has publicly accessible restrooms. Even more ubiquitous than the golden arches, coffee shops are another safe bet, though you may have to find a manager if the restrooms are kept locked in between uses.

Larger clothing stores, such as the Gap, often have bathrooms near their changing rooms, though they don’t advertise the fact. If you happen to be near a hotel, even one that isn’t yours, there are often publicly accessible toilets on the ground floor.

When you gotta go, smile desperately and ask nicely, and most employees of larger establishments will help you out.

When you’re done, consider that someone else will be cleaning up after you and city water isn’t free. If you don’t make a token purchase, at least tip well and gratefully. New York City will heart you back.


Alia Gee

Alia Gee

Alia has used the facilities in 4 out of 5 boroughs. Dyson hand dryers are her favorite.

She hosts travelers in between their journeys in her home in Astoria, NY. You can find her and her sparkling white bathroom at  The Green Room or The Summer Porch

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