More Than A Square to Spare: America’s Best Public Toilets

By Martin Brown

Toilet paper roll for the Best Public toilets in AmericaI call it an “away game.”

That’s when you’re on the road and you have to, well you know, “sit a spell.” That’s when you’ll be grateful to the restroom gods above to find yourself in the presence of one of America’s Best Restrooms, which is also an annual contest sponsored by Cintas. As the company explains on their website, they “design and implement full service restroom programs for businesses that combine superior service with top line products.” That’s corporate speak for “Dream Toilet!”

Whatever the commercial interest involved here I say bravo to Cintas for showing those back roads gas station restrooms what a real toilet is suppose to look like. The gallery of photos on the site from this year’s winner, The Field Museum in Chicago, to the 2010 top honoree, The Fountain on Locust in St. Louis, Missouri, known as the city’s most photographed restaurant, is enough to make any I-95 truck stop veteran cry bitter tears of disappointment. If only we could have waited…

And if the toilet Hall of Fame is not enough to make you green, figuratively hopefully not literally, with envy, wait till you see the gallery of runners-up.

For a long time, I’ve thought that there should be more recognition of the public restrooms that go the extra flush to make their guests feel welcome. After all the “other 99 percent of us” can’t afford to be always a few steps away from those luxury facilities at the Plaza in New York, The W in San Francisco, or the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. The one percent might be sitting pretty, but for the rest of us, it’s a poorly lit stall and an uncomfortably sticky seat.

When you’re in a town where the Wal Mart is your best public restroom option, you’ve hit bottom. I know I’ve been there and it still leaves me with bad dreams at night.

Thanks to the good people at Cintas we, the restroom challenged, now know what we’ve been missing.

The toilet Hall of Fame can be found here along with photos of each year’s runners up. The next time you find yourself stuck “between the moon and New York City,” think of some of these beautiful facilities. If only we could have held on long enough to get to the surroundings we deserve.


Martin Brown is the Heath Channel Editor for, and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right.

His latest book is Fit in 50 Days.

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