Deep below, 97-degree geothermally heated water mixes with the aquifer, producing surface temperatures in the high 80s. In addition to its soothing warmth, the spring’s water is rich in exfoliating minerals like salt and sulfur. Many visitors, including a large Eastern European contingent drawn here by these waters, believe the spring’s healing powers can treat ailments from psoriasis to fibromyalgia.
In the 1940s and ’50s, springs patrons could pay 25 cents for mud from the springs to smear on their skin. These days, it’s free. After a quick dip to rinse it off, you’ll be silky-smooth.
Soak Up the Sun
The lawn surrounding the springs is kept well-manicured and is perfect for picnics and sunbathing. (Don’t forget your SPF!)
Follow the Flow
The springs produce 9 million gallons of water a year, which flows from the pool down a creek and eventually into the Myakka River. The pool is essentially refilled with new water every two hours.
Archaeologists believe the springs were formed when a dry cave collapsed during the Ice Age and filled with water 20,000 years ago as glaciers melted and sea levels rose. In the 1950s, underwater explorer Col. William Royal discovered 10,000-year-old Paleo-Indian remains 35 feet below the surface; historians had previously thought that Florida wasn’t inhabited until 7,000 years ago.
A number of Eastern Europeans have moved here because of the springs; they’ve introduced the area to food from Russia, Poland, Germany, Hungary and more. Pack a picnic from nearby International Food grocery, which stocks cheese, pierogis, caviar, fresh-baked German bread and other goodies from the hinterland.