I have “issues” with public bathrooms and I have always wanted to write a book about the best bathrooms in the United States.
I was listening to NPR the other day and they were discussing a book about parking garages and I thought, hey, if people want to read about parking garages maybe they would like to read about bathrooms.
As you can probably tell from the few lines in this post, public bathrooms are on my mind – a lot. As an archaeologist, Karma travels to Kenya to do her work and people always ask me if I am going with her. When they ask this, she just laughs because she knows that I cannot handle the vagaries of working in the field in Kenya, and I think she is right. I am a friend of the city – concrete – clean bathrooms – and all.
I don’t think I will get my list of the best public bathrooms in America published anytime soon, so I thought I would post my list of good and bad public bathrooms here. I will break my list down into airports, grocery stores, department stores, gas stations, and mega stores (yes, I have given this a lot of thought).
What I know most about is airport bathrooms. In my old job I traveled a a lot, and that is one of the reasons why that is my old job, and not my current job. The best aiport bathroom I know is at the San Diego airport, but not in the Southwest Airlines terminal, but in the newer Hawaiian Airlines terminal. It’s clean, it’s not often used, and it’s large. These three characteristics meet my criteria for the perfect bathroom. Chicago Midway airport also has clean bathrooms. The cleanest and most private bathroom at Midway is at the Delta Airlines terminal. Not many people fly Delta out of Midway, so it makes this bathroom especially good.
If there is a good, there must also be a bad. The worst airport bathrooms can be found at Dallas Love Field, with St. Louis a close second, but if you find yourself in need of a bathroom at one of those airports you can save yourself in Dallas by heading away from the SWA counter towards where American and Continental once had a ticket counter – you’ll find a clean bathroom there. If you are in the STL airport, use the bathroom by Starbucks, before going through security. Of course, I can only vouch for the men’s rooms.
Grocery stores: I have only found two stores that have bathrooms that I would recommend. Whole Foods easily wins as the cleanest bathroom, and Trader Joe’s is a close second.
Department stores: Nordstrom wins hands down. They have some first class bathrooms. I do not shop that often at Nordstroms, but if I find myself in the mall and in the need of a bathroom, I definitely head towards Nordstroms. The rest of the department stores are satisfactory, but if given the choice, you can find me in the Nordstrom’s bathroom (not that you would be looking for me anyway).
Gas Stations: I avoid gas station bathrooms at all costs, unless I see a Quicktrip. For those of you who do not live in Texas, or in the Midwestern part of the United States, you do not have the opportunity of visiting a Quicktrip, but if you ever come across a Quicktrip gas station, stop in and you will see how a gas station should be run, nice people, clean facilities, fast service, and great prices. Also, most of them are police sub stations, so they are a safe place to stop late in the evening.
Mega Stores: I only visit two stores that qualify as mega stores , so this may not be a fair evaluation, but when I need to buy our toiletries, or a 30 pack of toilet paper, I head to either Target or Costco. Target wins as the cleanest bathroom. I would not call the bathrooms at Costco tdirty, but I would also not call them clean either, and I would definintely say they do not smell great.
So if you find yourself flying, shopping, buying groceries, or getting gas, as you make your way across the United States this summer, and you are in need of a clean bathroom, I hope that this post helps you.
InPerspire keeps you going :). Let us know if you have other recommendations – we can make this a community affair.