Florida’s many springs lure travelers
seeking health and a youthful spirit.
By Ruth Chin
Searching for eternal youth is nothing newPonce de Leon was looking for it as far back as the 16th century. His travels from Spain brought him to what he thought to be an island with water believed to prolong life. We know this place as Florida.
This collection of Florida’s fountains of youth begins in St. Augustine, America’s oldest town.
History and healing water
De Leon settled at the site now known as St. Augustine in 1513. One of the city’s popular attractions is called the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, 11 Magnolia Ave. Guides tell the history of Native Americans and Spanish explorers. The famous springs sustained the Timucuan Indians for centuries. Early excavations have uncovered burial sites, relics and Timucuan hut foundations.
Before the end of the tour, participants can sample the spring water, provided the strong sulphur odor gets past their noses. Admission to the park is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children. AAA discount is available.
More springs to explore
At De Leon Springs State Park, visitors can take a dip in a 72-degree spring pool, a refreshingif not healingexperience. The park also has interesting “eco-history” boat tours. In the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, guests can fry their own pancakes on the griddle in the center of each table. The popular breakfasts also include eggs, sausage, bacon, coffee and a variety of syrups.
Admission to the park in DeLeon Springs is $5.
West of Orange City, Blue Spring State Park is the largest spring on the St. Johns River. During November through March, it’s also a refuge for the West Indian Manatees. The 73-degree water is crystal clear, perfect for swimmers, snorkelers and divers. River cruises also are available.
Call ahead before visiting these state parks. Due to popularity, the parks are sometimes temporarily closed when visitor capacity is reached.
He may have been searching for gold, but Hernando de Soto is credited with finding Tampa Bay in 1539 and the Espirito Mineral Springs. According to legend, de Soto named the spring the fountain of youth.
For more than 60 years, Safety Harbor Resort and Spa in Tampa has used the springs as its primary source of water. Guests can “take the waters” or enjoy the spring water in the resorts pools, restaurant and spa.
|Sepot/Oct 2007 Issue|
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