Staycations: Destination Morton Warm Springs

July 17, 2009 7:03:02 PM PDT
There is a place you can get away from it all, a place you can take a relaxing dip in the natural mineral water of the Sonoma Valley wine country.

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Legend has it that the waters at Morton Warm Springs in Glen Ellen hold some sort of magical powers. Historically it has been a place for San Francisco's elite to visit. Today it is an affordable getaway for the entire family.

Water springs eternal at Morton Warm Springs north of Sonoma. The three swimming pools filled with natural spring water attracts people from all over the Bay Area.

"It's fun and refreshing," says Jasmin Aceves of Sonoma.

The water comes from a mineral well 200 feet below the surface.

"These are geothermal, which means they are heated way down deep," explains Marian Sciter, general manager of Morton Warm Springs.

That water is naturally heated to 94 degrees and cools to 84 once in the pool.

Morton Warm Springs sits on sacred land once belonging to the Wappo Native Americans.

"It was an area people were increasingly going to from the city to get away from it all," says Alison Bing of LonelyPlanet.com. "Take the waters, believed to have all sorts of health benefits, everything from curing rheumatism to curing sadness and depression."

There is no proof the water actually heals the body, but the legend lives on with anecdotal stories of miraculous rejuvenations.

Visitors say they come for the relaxation and serenity.

"I don't know anything about the therapy of the water," says Dietmar Demeter of Glen Ellen.

"We use the creek, we use the pool, we use the picnic tables," says Jamie Worthington of Sonoma. "One thing that's different is my eyes don't burn after four days a week in the pool, so it's really nice."

Visitors up for a little exploring will discover Sonoma Creek and its baby Steelhead trout. Once they grow up, they will swim to the ocean and return later to lay their own eggs.

Mortons Warm Springs is also participating in a rehabilitation of native plants. A 23-acre facility is not only available for nature lovers, but also for group picnics and weddings.

"Just having fun is therapeutic," says Margaret Slone of Glen Ellen. "You can't be here and not be happy."

The price of admission is $8 for adults and $7 for children and seniors. Picnic and barbeque areas should be reserved in advance.

For more information, visit mortonwarmsprings.com.

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