NORTH PORT, Fla. - It's become a pilgrimage for some. The green water, with a sulfur-like smell, draws visitors to Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port.
"It’s about 240 feet in diameter at the top. You can see it starts shallow and it starts to get deeper," said Laura Ansel, who works with the city of North Port's Parks and Recreation Department.
Ansel says, along with up to 50 minerals, the water holds a warm 85-degree temperature, year-round.
"It's actually a geothermal sinkhole and it’s the only natural warm mineral spring in the state of Florida," she said.
With depths of 225 feet, the hourglass-shaped spring has become a time capsule. It's preserved early history and allows archeologists to explore.
"There were many artifacts found. Some of those included human remains, items such as the remains and fossils of saberetoothed tigers and giant sloths and even pollen," said Ansel.
Those artifacts date back 11,000 years. The spring itself dates back more than 30,000 years.
Many people visit the springs because they believe it is the real site of the “Fountain of Youth.”
"That's one of the reasons why so many people travel to float in it, to enjoy the properties of those minerals," said Ansel.
While doctors have yet to prove its benefits, others will jump at the opportunity.
"It's very beneficial. It helps people for different problems," said Tatyan Mordvin. “It's very good for me. For my soul, my health. I like it.”
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Many eastern Europeans schedule yearly trips to take a dip in the springs.
"It’s an international tourist destination. More than 110,000 visitors travel here every year to visit the waters, enjoy a good float and get a good soak," explained Ansel.
The springs and their surrounding buildings are now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The city of North Port continues to work on a vision to preserve and continues welcoming guests to the mystical waters.
"It's an important draw for us, on the tourist front, to get people to come in and enjoy the history, the benefits of the spa and the waters and to get to get to know a little bit about the people who lived here thousands of years ago and the importance that brings to this area," said Ansel.
Warm Mineral Springs Park is open Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They're closed on Christmas.
It costs $15 to float in the springs for Sarasota County residents, or $20 for non-residents.
LINK: Additional information can be found visiting the city of North Port’s website.
Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port, Florida.