Best Public Restrooms in Austin
From the grandeur of a 19th-century hotel to a 21st-century steel-encased back-to-nature trail pit stop, the best Austin public restrooms add beauty, privacy and quirkiness to the business of getting your business done in Texas' capital city.
1. The main lobby restrooms at the Driskill Hotel on 604 Brazos St.
Enter this 1886 landmark through the leaded glass doors under the Seventh St. awning. Your feet hit the custom carpet bearing a repeating pattern of cattle brands from some of the Lone Star State's most famous ranches. Keep walking under the simulated pressed copper ceiling tiles until you get past the set of cattle horns set above the fireplace. Turn right when the ceiling tiles give way to a stained glass dome. The men's room is on the right, with the ladies' room a little further down on the left. In the men's room, framed artwork, dark wood paneling and mottled granite walls project solid elegance. In the women's room, step back to another era with pink porcelain floors, a sitting room with a couch, shadowbox framed art, and light and airy walls. The ceiling is so high, the full door for individual stalls is an extended transom door. Beware that the women's restroom may be occupied by a photo shoot because it is just that nice.
2. Miró Rivera Restroom on The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail where Rainey St. meets the Trail
This unisex bathroom is the Hike and Bike Trail's first new restroom in more than 30 years. Made of rust-colored Corten steel panels, this toilet is as much a design piece as it is a functioning latrine. The Miró Rivera architectural firm donated its work for the project. Outside is a water fountain and shower station including one about two feet off the ground for four legged friends. Part of the roof opens to the sky, with openings placed so that inquiring eyes from nearby high rises cannot see in.
3. Third floor Gent's Wash Room at the State Capitol at 11th & Congress Ave.
When the state capitol was built in the 1880s, restrooms had no air conditioning, but indoor restrooms tried to provide windows (the restrooms are air conditioned now). The third floor men's room just off the Capitol rotunda's elevator banks shows the "bigger in Texas" attitude toward using available lighting and ventilation with two windows, each more than four feet across and more than 10 feet high. Trimmed in wood and resting in a deep ledge, the thin wooden window shutters tastefully obscure activities inside the room. Most restrooms in the Capitol have simple contemporary signs designating whether they are for men or women. The third floor men's room escaped that fate, proudly proclaiming "Gent's Wash Room." (with the period) in etched glass above the hallway leading to the lavatory. The women's restroom is across the hall from the gent's. While the women enjoy the same size windows, they lack the distinctive sign.
4. Shady Grove Restaurant at 1624 Barton Springs Road
The Shady Grove restaurant helps "Keep Austin Weird" not just with its jackalope artwork and live music sets, but with the Airstream trailer converted into men's and women's restrooms. Handicapped restrooms are available inside this establishment, while the Airsteam provides moments of relaxation outdoors. If you need a potty break from the ACL Music Festival at nearby Zilker Park and do not want a portable latrine potty break, Shady Grove is a few blocks east of the Barton Creek edge of Austin's most well-attended music festival.
5. Mozart's Coffee Roasters at 3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
Pause at the top of the steps and take in the view of Lake Austin. Mozart Coffee Roasters is at the bottom of the stairs and to your left. Before you get to this Austin coffee shop and pastry island perched above the lake, the restrooms are on the left. One solid limestone wall provides architectural interest inside. The bench outside provides waiting patrons a place to watch the water, look at the trees and ponder how much it would cost to own a piece of property with this kind of view.
6. Schlotzsky's Bakery & Coffeehouse on 218 S. Lamar Blvd.
When you think restroom, is your first thought the smell of cinnamon buns, then a swift recognition of baking bread, followed by the realization you can also get ice cream? Expect these sensations as a matter of course at Schlotzsky's Bakery & Coffeehouse, which also houses a Cinnabon and Carvel ice cream store in addition to Schlotzsky's sandwiches and breads. The smell of baking cinnamon buns hits you when you open the first door. This is followed by the smell of breads rising and baking when you open the second door, along with very adequate air conditioning. With no time to waste, you head to the head. This flagship location is a few blocks east of Shady Grove, but still within walking distance of Zilker Park. It is also approximately two blocks from Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.
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