Step Back in Time at Dudley Farm Historic State Park
May 22, 2020
This historic hidden gem just outside Gainesville, FL is an authentic working Florida farm that showcases what life was like on a 19th century farm. At Dudley Farm Historic State Park you can enjoy walking through nature or immerse yourself in the history of the 18 original buildings on the property built between the 1880s and 1930s. Some of these include the restored family farmhouse with original furnishings, kitchen, general store, post office and cane syrup complex.
The farm was established by Phillip Benjamin Harvey Dudley Sr. before the Civil War. The Dudley’s prosperous farm became a hub and crossroads connecting four towns: Newberry, Archer, Jonesville and Gainesville. His son, P.B.H. Dudley Jr., developed the homestead you see today.
Unlike many historic sites, all the buildings at Dudley Farm are original to this location and were owned by the Dudley family. These buildings have been restored and not recreated — they are all original and many outfitted with authentic items.
We highly recommend stopping in the visitor center before you look at the farmstead. There is so much information about the family and their lives, and even a short film to watch. Getting the background of the family will help to enhance your viewing of their farm. You can also pick up a self-guide brochure which will help you identify all of the buildings at the homestead.
Things to Do at Dudley Farm
Dudley Farm offers plenty of hands-on opportunities to experience farm life: plow the garden, pump water, feed the chickens, grind corn and more. These all make great photos ops!
At this “living history” state park, you might catch staff and volunteers dressed in period clothing performing traditional farm chores. While there is no set-in-stone timeline for when the staff is working on the farm, we have found that you might be more likely to see activity on the weekends. The park also holds guided park tours the last Saturday of each month.
You can also attend the annual Fall Cane Festival which takes place in December each year. The main event at the festival is watching the traditional method of making cane syrup. You can watch staff do the whole process from cane grinding to boiling. This event also features craft demonstrations, wood-working, children’s games, many local vendors, food, old time music, and more.
Dudley Farm is also known for its beautiful gardens. The park holds plant sale events throughout the year. At the turn of the 20th century, neighbors would drive their horse and buggies past the Dudley Farmstead admiring the beautiful flowers in the front yard. Today’s visitors can see the spring bloom at its peak from March through May.
Dudley Farm houses a number of domesticated farm animals. You might see mules, horses, turkeys, chickens, and cows. While this park isn’t a prime spot for wildlife viewing, keep your eyes open for other animals such as deer, gopher tortoises, butterflies and birds.
There is a short 0.3 mile loop nature trail at Dudley Farm, which essentially takes you from the main parking lot and visitor’s center to the homestead. Besides this, there is no other hiking available at this park.
Cost: $5 per car – make sure to bring exact change as you’ll pay into an honor box
Location: 18730 W. Newberry Road, Newberry, FL 32669
Pets: Only allowed in the visitor’s center area of the park, not the historic homestead
Accessibility: While the majority of paths at the farm are not paved, it is fairly accessible. Wheelchairs are available for rent on request. A chair lift is available at the Dudley house to assist with access to the family farm house. Most of the other historic buildings are easily viewable. A tram is also available upon request to assist with transportation from the visitor center to the farmstead.
Restrooms are available near the visitor’s center.
Picnic tables and grills are available near the visitor’s center.