Watch your step and carry a big foam noodle. Planning to visit Warm Mineral Springs in North Port, Fla.? Well, that pretty sums up what you need to know but if you’re looking for a few more seeds of advice, you’re in luck! After a return visit and a first-time visit for my friend Vivian, we’ve compiled a list of other important tips for planning a visit to Warm Mineral Springs.
If you’re not sure what Warm Mineral Springs is, as local folklore has it, this is the original Fountain of Youth Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon referenced. This water-filled sinkhole has 51 minerals and many visitors believe the waters have healing properties for skin and joints. Pumping out 9 million gallons of water a day, the water temperature is a comfortable 87 degrees. It’s located about a 45-minute drive south of Sarasota on Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast.
Bring the Essentials
At first glance and after conferring with another visitor drifting in the Springs, the basic essentials needed to float in the clockwise flow with the rest of the herd are:
- Foam pool noodle, any color – For the optimal Warm Mineral Springs experience, a foam pool noodle (in the color of your choice) is essential. Due to the Spring’s high mineral content, your body is more buoyant than in fresh and salt water. The Spring’s “current” is clockwise and resting your body on a foam noodle makes going with the flow a whole lot easier. It also helps you avoid touching the Spring’s bottom which feels a little slimy in some areas. Of course, you don’t need to rest your body on one, you could do as one fellow did and that’s wrap it under your chin and around your head like a pair of rabbit ears. Or, grab two, place one under each arm and suspend your body for an awesome back stretch.
- Sunscreen – Well, that’s a no-brainer when you’re outdoors!
- Fancy sunglasses – Who doesn’t love fancy shades like these?
- A hat with a brim– Not only important in keeping sun off your face but keeping it off your scalp. Which, I admit to forgetting yesterday. Best of all, there’s no judging as to what type of brimmed hat you wear. I saw everything from ball caps to straw hats to Easter bonnets. I saw a woman who must be a member of the Red Hat Society because she wore a stylish red bonnet and purple swimsuit. Yesterday’s “Best Hat Award” went to a guy who rocked a pink bonnet accented with a pink flower. Rock on, dude!
- A towel – Well, duh. You’re going swimming.
Things You Must Know
- Watch your step – Let me show you the body souvenirs I brought back with me. As I mentioned, the bottom of the Springs can feel slimy, but on the manicured lawn, red ants are plentiful and just my luck, I found them. Or I shall say they found me. Trust me, you don’t want to meet them. Watch your step and stay away from piles of sandy soil, it’s a pretty good indicator fire ants live there.
- BYOC – Bring your own chair and/or blanket because chairs are not available for your lounging pleasure.
- Leave the cooler in the car – Effective Jan. 1, 2015, coolers are no longer permitted on the grounds because, according to the desk clerk, snacks are now available for sale. However, you can still bring in your own food and beverages, just not in a cooler. Or, get your hand stamped and head to the parking lot for a little tailgating before hopping back in the Springs.
- Keep hydrated – Bring along your own water, or other beverages for that matter. Don’t forget the snacks!
- Bring your ID – As of publication time, Sarasota County residents receive a $5 discount off admission, making it $15 vs. $20. Identification with your Sarasota County address is required for the discount.
- Rinse with tap water – Once you exit the water and leave for the day, rinse off any items you may have brought into the Springs with tap water including your sunglasses, cameras, etc. Minerals left behind may scratch sunglasses or camera lenses or corrode metals. The same practice should be applied when in salt water.
Other Niceties to Consider
- Water shoes – As I previously mentioned, there are places on the Spring’s bottom that feels slimy, in other areas, it feels soft as silk. Wearing water shoes will protect your precious paws from touching something potentially icky. As Vivian said, “I don’t care for slimy.”
- Brush up on a European language – What I love most about visiting Warm Mineral Springs is listening to the different languages being spoken. In addition to the Bronx, yesterday I heard German, French, Ukrainian, and others. Try a Pimsleur Language Program, Rosetta Stone or Duolingo (it’s free!)
- It’s not a fashion show – I mentioned how anything goes when it comes to hats and pretty much anything goes when it comes to swimwear at Warm Mineral Springs, including Speedos.
- Don’t break a sweat with your aquatic weights – Learned something new yesterday, that there are things called aquatic weights. I saw at least two people flexing what looked like dumbbells as they drifted with the Springs’ flow. I suppose the resistance gives the muscles a great workout. Best of all, you won’t be sweating because you’re floating in the 87 degree water.
- Make friends – Perhaps it’s because I’m in the tourism industry (and I’m always looking for a story for the blog) but I’m always curious where people are from and why they choose to visit an attraction. Don’t be shy while soaking up the healing waters, although, if someone’s in their Zen, don’t interrupt them. Yesterday I learned the perfect recipe for boiling a lobster (in beer) by chatting up a gentleman who shares his time between Cape Code and North Port. I’m 99 percent positive I’ll have a use for his recipe somewhere down the road.
- Jewelry – Silver is my preferred metal of choice and I learned during my early visits to the Springs to leave it at home. My silver immediately tarnishes to a deep purple-black color. I can easily buff it to its natural shine but, it’s just best to leave it at home. Plus, if you drop it, it’s probably gone forever.
- Plastic, not paper – Showers are available in a locker room and I highly recommend rinsing off before hopping in your car otherwise you’ll have a distinct odor of rotten eggs (sulfur) following you home. Bring a plastic bag to place your wet cloths and towel in.
Ready to take the plunge? Or, maybe you’ve been. If so, what did ya think?
Warm Mineral Springs
12200 San Servando Ave.
North Port, Fla. 34287
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to support my traveling habit, this blog and my special-needs dog.