The Cypress Lake House: Create Your Own Romantic Novel In Floral City, Florida

Article & Photos by Victoria Hart

It feels like the setting of a Nicholas Sparks novel. A charming, two-bedroom 1 1/2-bath cottage on Lake Consuela in Floral City, Florida, this cottage begs its guests to slow down and surrender to the present moment.

The rough cypress exterior siding blends perfectly with the lakeside setting. The dark, knotty pine of the interior walls is a stark contrast to the bright Florida sun outside, providing a cool, restful retreat from a day of play. With 1000 square feet of interior living space and a 300-square foot deck overlooking the lake, this house is the perfect size for a party of 2-4. Located 60 miles north of Tampa in Citrus County, Florida, the cottage has been the family gathering place of the Dudley family of St. Petersburg, Florida for three generations.

The History
In 1974, Bob Dudley Jr., a St. Petersburg builder, was hired to construct a condominium at John’s Pass on Treasure Island, Florida, where the Cypress Cottage was built in 1938. The cottage was scheduled for demolition, but Dudley decided to save the quaint cottage, moving it 100 miles to the lakefront property in Floral City, Florida where he and his wife Rita created a getaway for themselves and their nine children. (The original house sits next to the Cypress Cottage and is currently being renovated by the family.)


In order to fit the cottage down the narrow streets of Treasure Island, the house was cut in half then reassembled when it arrived in Floral City. The Dudley family spent several years visiting the cottage for work weekends to make the cottage habitable.

Dudley left the seam of the reconstruction exposed through a bedroom and hallway, keeping alive the story of how the house was split, moved, and put back together. The Cypress Cottage officially became the
Cypress Lake House.

The Lake
Floral City is at the south end of the Tsala Apopka Lake, a chain of lakes and wetlands that are part of the Withlacoochee River basin. Lake Consuela, where the Cypress Lake House sits on the bank, is part of that chain.

A canoe, a johnboat and a rowboat are provided with this rental. Push your vessel of choice into the lake, just a few feet away. Whether fishing, rowing or swimming are your muse, there are no reservations to be made, no extra fees to be paid, and no time frame to heed. Do what you want, when you want, but this writer recommends being on the lake around sunrise and sunset for picturesque views, chirping birds, and peaceful meditation.

Having access to these boats also means hours of entertainment at no additional cost. Renting from generous owners like the Dudleys, who allow guests to use their boats, are the perks that make home rental such an excellent value.

Rails to Trails
Located less than ½ a mile from the Cypress Lake House is the 23-mile marker of the Withlacoochee State Trail. This flat, 46-mile bike trail is one of the longest paved rails to trails projects in Florida. The trail runs through small towns, cattle ranches and natural areas from Citrus Springs to Dade City. The lush tree canopy provides protection from the hot Florida sun.

Owner Chris Dudley, one of the sons of Bob Dudley, Jr., provides guests with four old-fashioned single gear bicycles for use on the trail. Serious cyclists planning to master the trail may prefer bringing their own, but the bicycles provided were in excellent shape and suited me just fine for an early morning ride. The accessibility of the trail makes bicycling a great option, whether guests are up for a thirty minute ride or an all-day adventure, exploring Florida nature.

Floral City
Floral City was established in 1883, and named for its abundance of wildflowers. It is a slice of “Old Florida” that hasn’t changed much through the years. With approximately 5000 residents, it is truly a small town. The entire town is less than 23 square miles of land and two square miles of water.

Personal Touches
“Anything I have needed when I am there, I try to supply for my guests,” Chris Dudley tells me. A fabulous showerhead, complimentary firewood for

the fireplace and fire pit, use of the boats and bikes, a well-stocked kitchen suitable for cooking gourmet meals, a gas grill, and a computer with internet access make the tasks of living in the present moment
comfortable and convenient.

The Dudley family is a game playing family, so books, board games, and even a deck of cards decorated with a family photo from the 1960s are available for guests to use.

Another cottage tradition is writing in the guest book. Past guest books make great reading. We all know the expression, “If these walls could talk. “ I love reading guest books, and imagining the adventures others have experienced in this space. Guest books are old fashioned blogs, but there is something sensual about holding a book and feeling the pages as you decipher the handwritten word, that cannot be replicated from a keyboard.

If You Go
The Cypress Lake House is availble year round. Chris Dudley likes to talk personally with all his guests. He takes pride in making sure everyone feels welcome.

Conveniently located approximately 70 miles west of Orlando and 70 miles north of Tampa, Floral City is off FL-48. A car is needed, as the rural nature of the environment makes it tough to rely on public

The Cypress Lake House is a fantastic getaway and is just waiting for you! Click here for more information and to book your stay. 


Victoria Hart loves to share her travel tips, bargains, strategies and stories, inspiring others to create their own adventures. As a member of the International Travel Writer’s and Photographer’s Alliance, she writes for a variety of travel websites. When Victoria unpacks her suitcase, she calls Powell, Ohio home. She holds a B.S. in Communications from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Follow her on Facebook at Victoria Hart Travels and Writes or on Twitter @vhartthewriter.

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