For a ramble through a preserved Florida pioneer homestead, visit Dudley Farm Historic Site State Park, where rangers in period costume take you through a day in the life of a turn-of-the-20th-century Florida farmer.
Fees: $5 per vehicle
Open: 9-5 Wed-Sun
The roosters are crowing as you walk down the old Gainesville road into a scene from the late 1800s in Florida: cattle browsing behind a rough-hewn split-rail fence, tobacco hanging from the rafters of a drying barn, and a cat slinking around the herb garden outside a farmhouse with the windows flung open for the breeze.
Dudley Farm is on the National Register of Historic Places, a working farm home to three generations of the Dudley family and now treated with the same gentle care by volunteers and rangers who work the farm – grinding cane, cracking corn, mucking out stalls – while wearing period clothing and talking about a bygone era they’re living as if it was today.
The museum at the visitors’ center interprets the several generations of family who lived here, and how farming changed over the years; the tour will open your eyes to how difficult life was for Florida’s early settlers. Wander the farmstead on your own on self-guided tours Wed-Sun afternoons. There is a short nature trail on the site, and plenty of farmstead to ramble.
An old general store offers up old-time hand-made wares from the farm. More than 18 buildings make up the complex, which – especially with all the farm animals – is a great place to take the kids.