It is an unusual geological feature, one of Florida’s rare cenotes. It is the largest natural mineral water spring in the world, covering 1.4 acres at depths up to 250 feet. And it is the only publicly-accessible hot spring in Florida. Located in North Port, between Venice and Port Charlotte, Warm Mineral Springs stays a constant 87*F year-round.
Location: North Port
Lat-Lon: 27.058846, -82.261044
Fees: $20 adults, $15 ages 6-17, $10 ages 5 and under.
Open: 9-5 daily
Warm Mineral Springs is owned and operated by the City of North Port. Discounts are offered for Sarasota County residents. Bring your own lawn or beach chair.
Warm Mineral Springs has a long and storied history. Geologically, it was once a cave above the earth’s surface, as stalactites and stalagmites are present deep beneath the waters. And it is deep, with ledges at 45 feet, a debris cone at 148 feet, and the spring itself at 250 feet deep.
Below a certain depth, the water has extremely low levels of oxygen. Remains of saber-toothed cats, mammoths, prehistoric camels, and human remains have been found by underwater archaeologists, the first of whom explored the spring in the 1960s. Today’s visitors are constrained to a roped area in the “shallow end” of the spring.
Warm Mineral Springs opened as a tourist attraction in the 1940s, attracting bathers who wanted to “take the waters” for their health. These deep waters have the highest concentration of minerals found in any United States spring, which is obvious when you step into the spring. The water is both warm and soft, with a pH of 7.36.
When we visited Warm Mineral Springs in 2008, it was in its final days as a European-style spa, where international visitors came to “take the waters” for their health by immersing in the mineral-rich cenote. After being held and reopened to the public by Sarasota County, it is now owned and managed by the City of North Port.
Why is it warm? We were told that the warmth came from the extreme depth from which the waters rise. Trapped underground at great depth and pressure and released slowly, the water cools as it reaches the surface, with a flow of eight million gallons per day.
Florida’s only other hot spring is nearby Little Salt Springs, a protected archaeological site managed by the University of Miami. Human remains carbon-dated at more than 5,000 years old are buried within the spring along a ledge more than 90 feet below the surface of the spring. Learn about the amazing finds at this archaeological site.