By Attiyya Anthony
Down a dirt road in North Port, Fla., lies one of the Sunshine State’s most historical, relaxing and rejuvenating experiences – Warm Mineral Springs.
There are no canoes, glass-bottom boats or extreme water sports at this spring. It's simply a peaceful location to recharge and connect with nature.
Florida is home to more than 1,000 springs, but Warm Mineral Springs is the sole naturally occurring warm mineral spring in the state.
By definition, a mineral spring is a natural body of water that contains dissolved minerals, including salt, sulfur and gases. With up to 51 minerals and a year-round 85-degree temperature, the water here is the epitome of Southern hospitality – warm and inviting.
Visitors are directed down a long shadowy tunnel, to be greeted at the end by the sun's magnified rays, melodic birds, and squirrels scurrying through mossy trees -- and a large pond.
That pond is Warm Mineral Springs.
Natural-health lovers from all over the world come to sample the mineral-rich water, said to have healing properties for a variety of ailments. It is even fabled to be the “Fountain of Youth” so long sought by legendary explorer Juan Ponce de Leon.
But that's not where the story of Warm Mineral Springs begins. It’s a sinkhole, believed by archeologist to have opened to the surface as much as 30,000 years ago. Some 10,000 years ago the spring was used as an Indian burial ground. The mineral water preserved the fossils of saber-tooth tigers, sloths -- and ancient humans and their primitive tools.
Because of its high mineral content, the water also has gained a reputation for being magical. Research shows that magnesium helps nerves function, sulfate helps fight infection, and potassium helps electrolyte balance. All of these elements, and many more, are naturally found in the waters at Warm Mineral Springs.
While no doctor has proven its healing properties, visitors, residents and employees swear by the water, affectionately calling it “Miracle Lake.” Just ask the repeat visitors, and they’ll bombard you with stories of how wading in the water temporarily relieved them from inflammation, arthritis and sciatica pain.
Warm Mineral Springs is one of Florida's best kept secrets, yet several ailing Eastern Europeans and Northerners have uprooted their lives to relocate close to the springs. During the busy seasons in October and November, and March through May, busloads of people pour out from Chicago, Baltimore and Michigan to see if the stories about the springs are true. Most go home with stories of rejuvenation. And some never go back.
Here, you can rest, relax and enjoy untouched Florida nature – beautiful without overpopulation. On a cold day the steam rising from the springs resembles a sauna. Some days, the smell of minerals in the air is more pungent, alerting you that the minerals are ready and active.
Any day is a perfect day to enjoy Warm Mineral Springs; it's open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. With a $20 entry fee you can wade in the water and then go back to your hotel, grab a bite to eat a local restaurant or enjoy some shopping before finishing up at the springs.
When you go…
Warm Mineral Springs
12200 San Servando Ave, North Port, FL 34287
There’s no food sold onsite, but food is allowed as long as it's not in a cooler.
If you're interested in taking your relaxation to the next level, spa services -- including massages and anti-aging facials available – are available.
Scuba diving is allowed in the deeper parts of the springs – with a permit from the City of North Port.
The Warm Mineral Springs Motel, located half a mile from the site, offers large rooms that include sliding-glass doors, making star-gazing easy. There are also BBQ grills, shaded tables and a shuffleboard court. Some rooms even have a kitchenette.
There’s also a Budget Inn within five miles.
For dining, try Shark's Fish House, known for its fresh fish and chips, Old World Restaurant, a family establishment known for steaks and beer, or K & K Bakery's European pastries to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Shopping is only 10 minutes from the springs, at Cocoplum Village Shops.
They may not be as warm, but Florida has a host of other springs well worth visiting. Check them out at floridasprings.org
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