Best Public Restrooms in Boise

Posted Aug 27th 2010 11:32 AMUpdated Oct 26th 2010 02:51 AM

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Public Restrooms Boise

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Many people call them "men's" and "women's" rooms. The Japanese call them "honorable hand-washing places" (o-te-arai). But most public restrooms are better described as "yucky." Fear not. When nature calls, there are a number of clean and safe public restrooms in Boise, Idaho. The following is a quick compendium of places to...uh... go to the restroom in Boise.


State capitol building


This topic, for many, brings to mind politicians. Idaho's state capitol building is located close to downtown Boise at 700 W. Jefferson St. There are several public restrooms on the main floor, and since the building was recently renovated, they're thankfully a cut above standard government chic. The statehouse is open every day until 5 or 6PM, and until 10PM when the legislature is in session.


Boise City Hall


A few blocks south of the State Capitol is Boise's City Hall. It's a red brick building, done in a modern cubist design, which looks completely out of place among the beautiful old buildings from the early 1900's surrounding it. In fact, a minor uproar occurred in the city when residents realized old buildings were being razed to put in new, much more boring structures. Nevertheless, the bathrooms are clean, conveniently located, and open to the public Monday through Friday until 5 or 6PM.

Before leaving the political potty chambers, most visitors to Boise are surprised to learn that another city is found just a bit west of the center of town, and is surrounded by Boise City. The town is known as Garden City. Despite the idyllic name, it was founded because, before Idaho became a state, there was gambling in the area. When Boise City decided to ban it, the gambling den operators, most of whom were located on and near Chinden Street (named for Chinese Gardens), decided to form their own city. Garden City flourished for a time, until Idaho decided to ban gambling within the state altogether. Now, it's pretty much swallowed up by its big neighbor, but it still has back to basics-public bathrooms in its City Hall and library. They are found side-by-side at 6015 Glenwood Street, just north of the infamous Chinden. Both buildings are fairly new. City Hall is open Monday through Friday until 5PM. Later hours are available at the library on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until 8PM. It's also open on Saturdays from 10AM to 4PM.


Boise Public Library


Enough with the politicians. Mentioning the library brings to mind the main branch of the Boise Public Library at 715 S. Capitol, across from Julia Davis Park and near the Anne Frank Memorial Park. It is open until 9PM Tuesday through Thursday, Monday and Friday until 6PM, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons until 5PM.


Ice World


Of course there are more interesting places to find public restrooms in Boise than libraries and government buildings. If you're in southeast Boise, head out to Ice World, off Interstate 84, and next to a Factory Outlet mall. The address is 7072 S. Eisenman Road, but it's easiest to look for Factory Outlet signs along the highway. Lots go on at Ice World, from a spin on the ice to a Western line dancing class, that could make the journey even more memorable. And there's always shopping at the outlet stores.


Towne Square Mall


Speaking of shopping, there's the Towne Square Mall, off of I-84, at 350 N. Milwaukee. In typical mall fashion, you have your choice of lots of public restrooms, as well as about 180-plus shops to visit.


The Oregon Trail Reserve


For a much more interesting can, check out the Oregon Trail. Having images of covered wagons, harsh travels, and ducking behind a bush or tree for privacy? The Oregon Trail Reserve, a 66-acre site, shows some of that, but with nice indoor bathrooms. The Boise area Reserve is at 4500 E. Lake Forest Drive, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers a good view of Boise, and if you look hard, wagon ruts can still be seen in the ground. The travel route left the Kelton Ramp, crossed the Boise River at Beaver Dick's Ferry, and proceeded up the mountains to Idaho City, where gold was discovered in 1862.


Boise Train Depot


The Boise Train Depot (2603 W Eastover Terrace) offers another bit of Boise history. Although passenger trains no longer stop here, the Depot continues to overlook the city. It anchors the south end of Capitol Boulevard, while the State Capitol building anchors the north end. Back in the days when it was a functioning Union Pacific station, a good number of travelers made a pit stop in the bathroom. Now, the historic station attracts tourists and private events. Those nostalgic for old trains will like the cream-colored walls and massive, dark wood-framed windows of the Boise Depot's bathroom.


Boise State University


Find the Student Union Building on the Boise State University at 1910 University Drive. It has plenty of public restrooms. While there isn't much to see at BSU, one thing that's a must is the Bronco Stadium's blue field. It's at 1400 Bronco Lane, just off of University Drive. Some people swear ducks and geese land head (or is it beak?) first on the blue Astroturf, thinking it's a lake, others insist it's an unfounded rumor.


Fort Boise Community Center


To the north, you can find the Fort Boise Community Center, located in what was once U.S. Defense Department land at 700 Robbins Lane, just off of Fort Street. It's now a park, with a center that has exercise equipment and many exercise classes, including yoga, tai chi, and dance. Nice perks for those attending an event this Boise center, its public restrooms are always clean.

Although Boise has 56 public restrooms in its 47 parks, keep in mind that Idaho gets cold in winter, and public restrooms found in parks in the more remote parts of the city are closed and their water systems are winterized – shut down and the pipes blown clear of water – so that they won't burst in freezing cold weather. The shutdown process begins in October, and the facilities reopen beginning in April. All major parks including Julia Davis, Ann Morrison, and Kathryn Albertson near the downtown area and Camel's Back Park on the north end of the city will keep their restroom facilities open to the Boise public all year long.

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