For decades, Georgia residents and visitors have enjoyed vacationing in the areas surrounding the state’s natural hot springs. These springs provide mineral-rich waters ideal for swimming, bathing, or therapy. Also nearby these hot springs are renowned restaurants that keep people coming back to the area. Choose one of many Georgia vacation rentals close to these five hot springs, and prepare for fascinating encounters with history and the wonders of nature.

1. Warm Springs

Source: Flickr/David Brossard

Made famous by former New York Governor and U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the waters of Warm Springs, Georgia, and the surrounding area, attract people from all over the world. Roosevelt was stricken with polio in 1921, years before he became president. In 1924, while visiting a friend in Georgia, he swam in a pool of the 88-degree Fahrenheit mineral-rich spring water. He felt relief from pain immediately and was able to move his paralyzed right leg. Roosevelt built a home in Warm Springs that was later known as the Little White House. Over the years, his work in promoting the use of the therapeutic waters helped thousands of people with polio and other diseases obtain relief. Although many of the pools have been permanently drained to preserve them, visitors to the Historic Pools Museum are allowed to feel the water bubbling up from the basin of one of the pools. Some guests rub the water on their arms and legs, while others scoop up handfuls and drink it. Bolder visitors stick their whole heads in. Tour guides discourage people from drinking the naturally blue water, but there’s no evidence that it’s harmful to consume. After your Warm Springs experience, consume catfish, fried chicken livers, and fried okra, or a fried green tomato pimento cheese sandwich at Dinner’s Ready By Chad.

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2. Lifsey Spring

Source: Flickr/BurnAway

Travel to Pike County, Georgia, to find Lifsey Spring on Lifsey Spring Road in Molena, about 6 miles south of Zebulon. The spring emerges from the loose soil in the low ground, just north of a county road 2 miles west of Pine Mountain Store. Waters from the spring are contained in an unmanaged concrete pool, formerly open to the public for swimming. Farmers and their sons in this rural community used to cool off in the pool late in the day after working in the fields. In 1921, swimmers were separated by gender, with men-only and women-only areas designated in the pool. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) took measurements in June 1935 and noted that the spring was discharging 83 gallons of water per minute. When the air temperature was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, the water temperature on the pool surface registered 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and 78.5 degrees Fahrenheit on the pool bottom. Accessing water from the unattended spring is free, but you must do so at your own risk. While in Molena, visit the charming renovated Whiskey Bonding Barn.

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3. Thundering Spring

Source: Library of Congress/Jet Lowe

Georgia’s Thundering Spring creates a pool of water that was once enclosed in a wooden framework for bathing. To get there from Molena, in Pike County, head east on Springs Road toward North Main Street. Once you reach Dripping Rock Road, you’ll see Thundering Spring on the left. There’s lots of water to play in, and it’s free to enter. After a wonderful, therapeutic soak, consider driving about 5 miles northwest to Woodbury to see the oldest and longest wooden bridge in Georgia, the Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge. Horace King, a freed slave and bridge builder built this enduring structure in the 1840s. If you get hungry while in town, enjoy a thick juicy burger, pulled barbecued chicken, or pineapple fajitas at Blackbird Cafe.

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4. Barker Spring

Source: Pixabay/paulbr75

Barker Spring, Georgia, lies south of GA-74, about 10 miles southeast of Molena, in rural Pike County. As of 1935, the spring was enclosed in concrete walls, creating a 98-foot-long swimming pool, and the USGS recorded the water temperature as 74.2 degrees Fahrenheit. After stopping by the spring, spend some time antiquing at Storytellers Antique Mall in rustic downtown Molena.

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5. Taylor Spring

Source: Flickr/Rob B Brown

About 6.5 miles south of Zebulon, Taylor Spring emerges from the loose soil in a wide valley just west of U.S. Highway 19. Decades ago, an earthen embankment enclosed the water source, draining it into a 40-foot by 130-foot concrete swimming pool, with a water temperature of 74.8 degrees Fahrenheit. After checking out the water, as you head back to your Zebulon vacation rental, stop at the award-winning Oink Joint Zebulon. Specialties include southern BBQ, fish tacos, and hand-dipped ice cream cones. For a short stop and a delicious pizza, call ahead for takeout from American Pie Pizzeria. If you enjoy golf, get a tee time at Cedars Golf Club while you are in the area. Before you go home, stroll through Zebulon’s renovated Downtown Square.

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