Tips & Tricks: Finding a Bathroom in New York City Traveling with Kids
I think every parent has had that moment where their little one looks up and you can just feel the urgency by looking into their eyes. You are out for the day in a place not easily navigated and you know you need to find a bathroom ASAP. I have been there! If there were such a thing as bathroom passports, then my children’s would bursting with stamped pages. We are almost always on the go and it seems that despite my constant nagging and persistent pleading, they never actually use the loo before we leave home. Thankfully, in most of our daily destinations and local stops, there is always a bathroom ready and waiting. The real trouble in finding a way to satiate their need for a potty break always seems to start when we are out in New York City.
The Big Apple is a tricky place to find a bathroom and it can be especially hard during the more busy seasons, such as around the holidays. Rest assured though, it can be done! My best tip is to always make sure the kids go before leaving your first destination. We usually drive in, so before we even step above ground from the parking garage we make a quick stop in the bathroom there ( I have yet to use a garage that didn’t have a restroom for customers.) The same rule goes when we take the train in to Penn Station. Our rule is bathroom first and then we start our adventure.
My number one ( No pun intended) pick for a quick bathroom stop has always been Starbucks. In my experience it usually works as a way to kill two birds with one stone, since I can always use a caffeine fix. If you aren’t in the mood to buy something, it is also important to note that I have never once been asked to purchase something in order to use the bathroom in a Starbucks. The restrooms are always super clean and in the summer it also is a nice way to get the kids out of the heat for a bit. There also is a Starbucks on practically every corner so they are readily available and if for whatever reason you cannot find one, you can always look one up on google or their app.
Second only to my first pick: Hotel lobby restrooms. Boy, we are big fans of hotel lobby bathrooms! They are always super clean and no-one has ever seemed to question us on whether or not we are guests. It is a nice way to scout out a place to stay for your next visit to Manhattan, as well. Hotels are all over Manhattan, so it is very easy to find one. The only time I have ever been refused a hotel lobby bathroom was in a tiny boutique hotel, but I haven’t let that deter us from trying those as well since we always like checking out new places.
Department stores are also a good find. Depending where you are in the city, most of the time you can find a big name store that will allow you to use the bathroom. In the busier times of the year, this can be difficult but worth it in a pinch ( Especially when navigating through crowds with a double stroller!) The nicer department stores always have sitting areas, so I have always utilized those locations as a quick place to also settle kids with snacks or even for a quick breast feeding session. It’s always a nice calm place for a break!
My last great tip for finding a bathroom in NYC is to head to one of the many beautiful parks or landmarks. For example we recently discovered during a quick sprint through the New York City Public Library that it is an awesome place to hit the bathroom while also seeing a gorgeous landmark, There also is usually a free exhibit going on as well! A few other landmarks with checking out on your way to a potty break are: Grand Central Station, Just beware that in certain landmarks you will wait on a line at times due to security search protocol, so obviously in an emergency this may not be the best option. You can check out this link for an updated list of NYC park bathrooms listed fully with when they are open.
I hope this advice helps you and your kids have an amazing time exploring New York City! Be sure to check back soon for more great tips and tricks for travel from locals like me!
Local Author: Holly Nichole Zarcone