5 Southern Hot Springs Destinations to Keep You Warm
Thousands of years ago, our country’s earliest inhabitants used the nourishing powers of mineral water to heal a variety of ailments. Today, hot (or warm) springs are delightful places to relax, reconnect with nature, and nourish your body and mind. Soaking in spring water is reported to help with circulatory illnesses, increase oxygen flow, and alleviate muscle, joint, and skin issues. From lush resorts to rustic, small-town parks, here are five hot springs to check out.
Hot Springs Resort and Spa | Hot Springs, North Carolina
Located just outside of Asheville, this small NC town’s hot springs were first discovered by Native Americans, whose presence dates back nearly 5,000 years. Since 1778, the town has shared the benefits of its spring water with locals and visitors alike. The mineral baths have moved to several locations since the early 1800s, and you can still visit the ruins of a bathhouse from the 1860s. Whether you want to stay the night with a loved one or simply make use of the waters to relieve pain and stiffness, Hot Springs Resort & Spa offers immense relaxation, along with a selection of cabin and campsite rentals!
Hot natural mineral water constantly flows through the jetted hot tubs from deep inside the earth. The resort has tactfully built the tubs into gorgeous wooden decks tucked away along the scenic Spring Creek and French Broad River. Open seven days a week, you can enjoy the mineral baths hourly, starting at $50 for two. Reservations are required, and you can plan your visit here.
Quapaw Baths & Spa | Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is home to Hot Springs National Park and a thermal springs “hot spot.” From 1880 until 1950, the town flourished as a health destination, peaking in 1946 when one million baths were taken. The development of modern medicine ushered a decline in bathhouse patronage, but Hot Springs’ “Bathhouse Row” continues to thrive today.
The massive indoor baths at Quapaw Baths & Day Spa are a popular spot on the row. After a day of sightseeing and exploring in the lively Hot Springs area, there’s no better way to unwind than in a world-famous mineral bath.
Allegheny Springs at Omni Homestead | Hot Springs, Virginia
The Allegheny Mountains’ two main natural springs run through The Omni Homestead Resort. Since their discovery by Native Americans some 9,000 years ago, key Virginia figures like Thomas Jefferson have touted the water’s healing capabilities, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area each year. According to the resort, the United States Geological Survey determined that these springs are unaffected by changing seasons. They remain at a natural body temperature year-round and flow at an astonishing rate of 1.7 million gallons daily. The waters are packed with minerals but are also so crystal clear you can read a book through them.
You can visit the springs via the resort. Allegheny Springs is a two-acre water park fed by the area’s natural springs. Kids and kids at heart love the park’s two 100-foot water slides, 400-foot lazy river, large outdoor pools, stately 1904-built indoor pool, and cozy whirlpools. But the main attraction for relaxation seekers is the spa’s outdoor, naturally warm, spring-fed Serenity Garden Pool. It’s open year-round, so imagine cozying up in a corner of the pool with a hot tea and a book while snow falls around you.
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Under two hours from Washington D.C., Berkeley Springs State Park is one of the most historic examples of ancient hot springs still open today. In 1730, the first European settlers learned about the ancient springs that had attracted Indian predecessors from Canada to the Carolinas. Word of the equally mystical and practical natural springs spread far and wide, and soon everyone was flocking to this holistic health mecca.
Within the small state park in the heart of town, you can plop into the idyllic Roman baths, rent a modern jacuzzi tub — both heated to 102 degrees — or swim in the outdoor pool filled with the legendary warm mineral water that flows from the springs at a constant temperature of 74.3 degrees. Today, the springs still discharge about 2,000 gallons of sparkling water per minute from five nearby spring sources.
Warm Mineral Springs Park | North Park, Florida
According to TopHotSprings.com, Florida has 13 natural springs that range from warm (above 68 degrees) to hot (above 84 degrees), but it has dozens more if you count the cool ones, too! One of the warmest, oldest, and most magical of them all is Warm Springs Mineral Park.
A balmy 85 to 87 degrees year-round, it’s said that the immense sinkhole pool was used publically as far back as 30,000 years ago. Reaching 200 feet deep at some points, the spring continuously flows and refills nine million gallons per day. Swim, soak, scuba dive, or opt for a skin treatment or facial to take advantage of the water’s 50 nourishing minerals. It’s no wonder this place is crowned a “Fountain of Youth!”
These hot springs beckon us to ditch the cozy robe and submerge. May the pursuit of this age-defying and mind-calming mineral magic also spark some ancestral education and exploration of parts unknown!
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