Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hot Springs VA and the Jefferson Pools

One sunny, winter's day in February my friends and I decided to make the drive to Hot Springs, VA. to visit the Hot Springs;)  The Jefferson Pools are the very hot springs Thomas Jefferson visited for 3 weeks back in 1818, "taking to the waters" 3 times a day, calling the springs one of his favorite places!  The gentleman's bath house, built in 1761, followed by the ladies bath house in 1836, mark this place as one of the oldest surviving structures in VA.  A truly historic place:)  Fed by the constant flow of a 98 degree mineral spring, once you immerse yourself in these waters, it's pretty darn hard to step out;)   

The Visitors Center and Ladies Bath House

The Gentleman's Bath House

The structures here are the originals, so they have seen a lot of living, parts of these buildings are coming apart, a little at a time, but they are perfectly safe.  Ownership of these springs have changed hands many times over the years leaving the buildings in disrepair.  Thanks to the recent support of the local community, the Jefferson Pools may face a new era, including the preservation of this historic place:)  Things to keep in mind when you visit:  If it's winter, it's COLD, there is no heat in these bathhouses other than the steam that comes off the springs, so when you change in the changing rooms, you change speedy;)  This place was built a loooonnnngggg time ago, so it's not going to look like a Ritz Carlton, it's old, and parts of the structure are crumbling, so be gentle.  Remember, you're literally stepping back in time!  But it's a very cool place, and well worth the $17 visit!!!  The pools also have a schedule, at certain times the pools are open to men only in one and women only in the other (bathing suit optional), and at other times, both are co-ed.  No, we didn't see any naked people;)  We went from 12-2pm, family soak time. 

Immersing myself into the hot spring was a truly unique experience!  I could feel the slick rocks on toes and on the balls of my feet.  I would curl my toes around small rocks and pick them up with my feet!  I'd swim, calmly from one end of the pool to the other, relishing in the heat and steam, breathing slowly, relaxing.  And I couldn't help but think of Thomas Jefferson, walking down into the same pool, trying to find peace and serenity far from politics and people.  After our hour soak was up, we slowly peeled ourselves from the wonderful waters, filled with warm feelings of calm and serenity.

After our soak, we headed just minutes away to The Homestead Resort for lunch:)  WOW!!!!  What a grand hotel!!!!  As you approach this hotel, you are a little stunned that something of this magnitude sits in the middle of rolling, quite mountain vistas:)  Since the 18th century, this hotel has hosted many distinguished guests, including 22 US Presidents.  Boasting a grand hall, 483 well appointed guest rooms, several restaurants, game room, shops, ice rink, hot springs, pools and a championship golf course, this hotel is guaranteed to keep you and yours, entertained!!!         

We dined at the Jefferson's Restaurant, a beautiful space, outlined in floor to ceiling windows, bringing the landscape outside, inside.  After such a soothing soak in the hot springs, we ordered hot teas and sandwiches, it was perfect!  

The game room is filled with fun activities, a small bowling alley, video games, air hockey and pool tables are ready to encourage some fun competition:) 

The drive home was so pretty we couldn't help but stop and take in the view and have a little fun:)  Between the mountains, forests and rivers, one can't help but be enchanted!

Make some lasting memories in Hot Springs, VA!  We sure did!!!

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