Experts say the surrounding sinkhole of the Warm Mineral Springs in southern Sarasota County formed more than 12,000 years ago.
That would explain the ancient animal and human bones, plant remains and artifacts archeologists have discovered at the springs—which measure 240-feet in diameter and up to 205 feet deep. From saber tooth tigers to giant sloths and the remains of a prehistoric hunter and at least seven more humans discovered in a preserved state, the springs, and the park’s mid century buildings have earned a spot on the United States National Register of Historic Places.
Just like thousands of visitors before us, this week my husband and I sought out the mineral springs for the rumored healing effects. Our hope was for possible relief from the lingering symptoms our COVID-19 battles. The shortness of breath, headaches, insomnia, racing heart and fatigue still hang on many months later.
We arrived at the park at 9:30 a.m. after a three-hour drive from Gainesville. Friendly City of North Port park staff greeted us in a gift shop filled with crystals and aromatherapy vials, where they collected our $20 per person entry fee.
We entered a tunnel flanked by locker rooms and spa treatment rooms and followed the path until it opened up to blue skies, swaying palm trees and the soft banter of hundreds of mostly senior citizens floating and chatting in small groups.
Hundreds of lounge chairs were set up around the edges of the water and two lifeguards were perched in their high seats.
Ramps lead into the 87-degree water which is just 2 feet deep at first. The murky green water has a very slight sulphur smell to it and the blend of more than 51 minerals makes floating on your back a breeze.
The springs produce more than 9 million gallons of renewed mineral water a day with an Alkaline pH of 7.3, close to matching the human body’s natural pH.
A United States Geological Survey (USGS) by the United States Department of the Interior lists nitrate, ammonium and sulfate concentrations as affecting the clarity of the water. And the ions with the highest concentrations include chloride, sodium, sulfate, magnesium and sodium.
Once you enter the springs and start to make your way to the deep center, you learn the visit is much more than an interaction with the water. This site is a social center for people who come from all over the world and who want to interact and have conversations.
In the several hours time spent soaking, we talked to visitors from Greece, Russia, Pennsylvania, West Palm and Los Angeles.
One couple in the IT business now work remotely after relocating from California. They wanted to live near a relative who has visited the springs daily and survived a battle with cancer for 10 years.
One woman kept dunking into the water and opening her eyes underwater because she said the minerals healed the dryness from which she suffers.
A cotton candy manufacturer from South Florida came to soak in the water to heal his psoriasis. We learned all about his company and the three new cotton candy flavors about to be announced.
Everyone had a story about their draw to the springs.
The secret to getting the most out of our visit, an annual pass-holder told us, is to not rinse off the mineral water for at least two hours so that it sinks in.
Our day visit was relaxing, the people were a joy to converse with and our bodies were grateful.
For more information on the Warm Mineral Springs Park click here.
If you go:
- Location: 12200 San Servando Avenue in North Port, Fla.
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week except for Dec. 25
- To schedule spa services, call: (941) 426-1692