Europeans, Russians, Ukrainians, Scandinavians, and Israelis are all well acquainted with the mental and physical health benefits of soaking in mineral springs. But the habit is not as common for us Americans. And it turns out that we Central Floridians live next door to the largest mineral spring in the world. Welcome to Warm Mineral Springs in relaxed North Port, Florida, a short 45-minute drive from Sarasota. The perfect 87-degree waters are turbid, dense, and amazingly buoyant, providing the perfect balance between exercise and relaxation.
The spring is actually a giant, hourglass-shaped sinkhole caused by a 20,000 year-old earthquake and cave-in. The sources (and there are several) of the upwelling spring water lives more than 200 feet below the surface, and geologists believe that it may have taken up to 60,000 years for the underground water to filter through the earth before reaching the surface. That may account for the fact that Warm Mineral Springs contains the highest mineral content of any springs in the US—that’s the stuff with the healing powers. In fact, people from all over the world have been using this natural formation as a spa since 1947, its dissolved mineral content thought to help with ailments from arthritis to fibromyalgia.
What’s more, this formation may have been sacred to prehistoric people, as well, and its low oxygen content has enabled unprecedented preservation of important archaeological treasures. Over the years, archaeologists and divers have discovered an intact 10,000-year-old Stone Age hunter curled around his spear, the skull of a Saber Tooth tiger, remains from a 100,000-year-old mammoth, and evidence of the oldest intentional burial grounds in North America.
The spa charges daily admission to soak in the healing waters or lounge in the Adirondack chairs on the expansive lawn, where herons and other wading birds fish in the warm waters. The facility feels “old Florida.” It is not stuffy or exclusive, and children are welcome. In addition, discounts are available for Sarasota County and North Port residents, and the facility offers a substantial break for monthly and annual memberships.
Be brave; get rid of your ibuprofen. The comfortable, healing waters of Warm Mineral Springs await.