When we hear the term “hot springs”, we often conjure up images of dramatic landscapes of the western states of the US, places tucked away in the mountains of Colorado or deep in a California forest. Locations closer to the east coast don’t usually make the list.
However, the East Coast has its fair share of thermal springs too. While they’re a bit harder to find, there are plenty of natural springs to explore and soak in on the other side of the country. In fact, there are even warm and cool natural springs perfect to chill down on those toasty summer days full of humidity that the West doesn’t typically see.
This is our list of favorite hot springs destinations east of the Mississippi River. Some are rural, while others are modern and regulated. While not all are heated naturally, some are boil-heated, all are well worth a trip. Here are the top warm and hot springs by the East Coast (actually east of Mississippi River, including other states like West Virginia, Tennessee and Illinois), in no particular order:
1. Warm Mineral Springs Park – North Port, FL
Warm Mineral Springs Park is aptly named with 85℉ water containing one of the highest mineral concentrations of all the natural springs in America. It’s also one of the more historically intriguing places around.
This single pool was formed by a 30,000-year-old sinkhole and is over 200 feet deep! Bathers can soak, swim, and–yes–even scuba dive here. The discovery of stalactites and stalagmites below the waterline in 1958 points to it being a dry cave during the last ice age before it filled with water. The Department of the Interior even placed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Divers have uncovered prehistoric bones and tools as well as mammoth and saber-tooth tiger fossils. It’s those discoveries that prove even early Paleo Indians were aware of the healing powers of the springs.
Spend an afternoon relaxing in the pool or the on-site spa. If you’re planning on sticking around for a couple of days, the Warm Mineral Springs Motel (affiliate link) is half a mile from the springs and has even more things for you to do. There’s a swimming pool, another spa, and even outdoor shuffleboard courts to challenge your friends and family.
2. Hot Springs Resort & Spa – Hot Springs, NC
Get your soak on in the Southern Appalachians in this lovely mineral hot springs. Jetted hot tubs centered in wooden decks are part of a 100-acre resort complete with some spectacular scenery.
Enjoy a solo soak in a Standard bath or upgrade to the Deluxe for even better views, more privacy, and a larger deck to sit on between dips. The latter includes a table, chairs, and a heater or fan to keep you as toasty or cool as you want to be.
A third option for groups with up to seven people is the Group Mineral Bath. It’s a great choice if you’re bringing along friends or family. And Signature Tubs are the most luxurious with cabana-style outdoor rooms, private fire places, sundecks, and natural mineral water showers. They even give you robes to lounge in.
However you chose to do it at the Hot Springs Resort & Spa, you’ll be able to relax to the sound of water running through the small creeks and broad rivers running through the property. And you can enjoy 360-degree views of some of the most bewitching mountains the East has to offer.
For those sticking around for a few days, there are primitive campsites, RV hookups, house rentals, riverside camping cabins, and more elaborate cabins with private jetted mineral water tubs. In other words, there really is something for everyone here.
3. Broadwing Farm Cabins – Hot Springs, NC
Another of our top East Coast picks is Broadwing Farm Cabins. Here you can enjoy the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with the rental of one of three cabins on a privately-owned, organic and holistic farm. Included in your stay is access to a private hot tub filled by a local hot springs. If you visited the aforementioned Hot Springs Resort & Spa, it’s an easy drive to Broadwing, just mile outside of town.
Cabins sleep between four and six people. Your personal tub is directly connected to the aquifer below, and the water sits at around 85℉ naturally but can be adjusted up or down between 80℉ and 104℉. The farm is surrounded by thick pine forests, it’s not only peaceful but full of wildlife.
As with most hot springs, Broadwing’s was originally used by Natives before being “discovered” by settlers on the banks of the French Broad River. It was an unusual find for the area and drew big crowds even then. A farming family bought 85 acres in the area in 1992 but didn’t realize they were on top of the springs until drilling for drinking water in 1999. The rest is history.
4. Capon Springs and Farms Resort– High View, WV
Capon Springs and Farms is 4,700 acres of bliss for anyone who loves nature. Lush forests give the resort a feeling of isolation in a time capsule. Hiking trails with sweeping vistas reward those who make it to the top of the hills. There’s even a small pond on the land.
Bathers have been flocking to Capon Springs for over 200 years for its healing properties. In fact, its name comes from a Native American word meaning “healing waters”. These days, it’s a bit more formal, touted as the Hygei Bath House & Spa.
Inside, you have three soaking rooms to chose from, each containing a 6x8x3-foot tub with 102℉ water pulled from the springs. Every detail is thought out with relaxation in mind: aromatherapy mineral salts, post-soak massages or reflexology, swim spa pools for exercise or floating. This is where stress goes to disappear.
But the fun doesn’t end there. Guests spend the night in a 115-room historical mansion house initially named the Grand Mountain House. Sadly, the original burned to the ground in 1911 and wasn’t rebuilt until Lou and Virginia Austin took over in 1932.
There is also the option to stay in one of 14 independently standing, 19th-century cottages on the property. Each has a unique history of its own.
With a wide range of activities to participate in everyone will be entertained here. You might even leave with a few new friends, as it has a feeling of being more like a summer camp than a stuffy resort.
5. The Greenbrier – White Sulphur Springs, WV
If you’re looking for a luxurious experience, there’s no greater indulgence than The Greenbrier, a magnificent resort in the Allegheny Mountains. This National Historic Landmark has been around since 1778 and hosted 28 US presidents. 11,000 acres of pristine land guarantee amazing views wherever you look.
Hot springs seekers will be pleased to find multiple soaking options here. Relax in a Sulphur Soak, a Mineral Bath, a Detox Bath, or a Fruit and Cream Bath. All are designed with different purposes in mind from relieving aches and pains to boosting your metabolism and hydrating your skin. Each will leave you with positive effects.
There are rooms at the resort for every springs seeker. They start with opulent rooms that come with the five-star concierge service down to a beautiful but basic place to lay your head at night and everything in between. Estate homes and legacy cottages independent from the main house are also available.
6. Berkeley Springs State Park – Berkeley Springs, WV
The area is situated as a hot springs enthusiast’s paradise. At Berkeley Springs State Park you can sink into a lavish whirlpool heated to a pristine 102 degrees F. Complete with jets and 150 gallons of mineral water, it’s the ideal spot to melt your troubles away.
If you’re looking for a more historical – yet equally enjoyable – experience, you can opt for the Roman Bath in the Main Bathhouse instead. Here, you can enjoy 750 gallons of 102°F degree water sourced directly from the springs.
The pleasure doesn’t have to stop there, though. Pair your dip in the bath with a therapeutic massage, hot stone massage, or cupping treatment to take your voyage to the next level. For those who prefer to stick to crisper 74°F temperatures, Berkeley Springs State Park offers an outdoor pool filled with glorious natural spring water.
7. The Original Springs Hotel – Okawville, IL
In the 1800s, a man named Rudolph Plegge had concerns about his water. The surface of his cookware was ruined, and leaks were starting to sprout around the house. When he got it tested, he was surprised to find that his well was full of magnesium and sulphur. In fact there was so much of it, it was similar to that of well-known hot springs of the day.
He and his neighbor decided to build a bathhouse on the land, and the guests started to come. Though it burned down in 1891, after three decades of hosting bathers, its replacement remains to this day and is the only operational mineral spa in Illinois.
Today, bathers are invited to soak in individual, private bathtubs. The water is boiler-heated to 110℉ but can be adjusted. There is also a heated pool available. It’s not mineral-based, but it’s a great place to get some exercise before or after a soak in a beautiful space that brings the outdoors inside.
The Original Springs Hotel is historic but has been updates with all the modern amenities for comfort. For hotel accommodations you can request a regular room, the jacuzzi suite, or even a pet-friendly space.
8. Armour’s Hotel & Spa – Red Boiling Springs, TN
Armour’s Hotel & Spa is another on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built in 1924 and called Count’s Hotel, it was comprised of multiple buildings that have since been town down. In its current form, the picturesque main house, a colonial revival-style mansion, rents 24 rooms.
Hot springs seekers can schedule an hour-long soak in the bathhouse with plush robes issued by the hotel. Local mineral water is pumped from the ground into two claw-foot porcelain bathtubs for a relaxing evening in a luxurious piece of history. Spa services can be added.
9. Omni Homestead Resort – Hot Springs, VA
Dropped into the middle of the Allegheny Mountain Valley, the 2,300-acre Omni Homestead Resort is surrounded by an incredible natural landscape with an abundance of wildlife. Built in 1766, the architecture of the buildings is equally as captivating.
Native Americans were the first visitors to the two major springs that flow through the property. There is evidence of their arriving as long as 9,000 years ago. Today, several pools are offered for guests’ relaxation.
The first, the Jefferson Pools, named after their famous admirer, is all-natural, no interference with the natural heat. The second, the Gentleman’s Pool House, was built in 1761 and is the oldest spa structure in the US. There is also a Ladies’ Pool House for more privacy. The Serenity Garden is adults only, and the Geothermal Octagon Pool is full of 96℉ spring-fed mineral water year round.
The Infinity Pool and Intimate Hot Tub are the most central of the pools with the former between 85℉ and 92℉, and the latter at a steady 103℉. Both have unbelievable views. And for the kids or kids at heart, there is a spring-fed water park on 2 acres with an indoor pool for avoiding extreme weather.
483 guest rooms are available for overnighters, from standard one-rooms all the way up to the 1,500 square foot President’s Suite. They are beautifully furnished with period pieces.
10. Sand Springs Pool – Williamstown, MA
Massachusetts is a limited on natural springs, but the one is has is fantastic for summer. The Sand Springs Pool & Recreation Center is on the cooler end of the warm springs spectrum with a tepid and steady 72℉ (22℃). It’s open all summer long for bathers to take a break from the heat. As one of the oldest springs in North America, it’s also one of the most popular in the Northeast.
What started as a water source and medicinal place for tribes from the Five Nations has changed hands many times over the generations, each owner adding to the buildings and attractions. Now, it is in the hands of a non-profit organization.
Set up like a community swimming pool, the bathhouse here can hold up to 250 guests. They offer swim lessons, water aerobics, and yoga to get people more comfortable in the water. Whether you’re here to soak or swim, there’s lots of space and plenty of entertainment for kids and adults alike.
The Sand Springs Pool & Recreation Center is in a rural area and doesn’t have on-site lodging. If you’re planning to stay in the area, there are a few locally run motels, inns, and Airbnbs near the pool, and it’s best to book well in advance.
For those living or visiting the eastern side of the United States, consider stopping by one of the lovely natural springs for a day of rest and relaxation. All of these warm and hot springs are sure to delight you on your East Coast adventure.