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Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford

4.8
#7 of 26 in Nature in Connecticut
State Park Nature / Park
Harkness Memorial State Park is a Connecticut state park and botanical garden located in Waterford, Connecticut, on the Long Island Sound. The park comprises a 42-room Renaissance Revival mansion, designed by the New York architectural firm of Lord & Hewlett, with a surrounding area containing Italian, Oriental, and Cutting gardens and greenhouses.HistoryThe park was formerly Eolia, the estate of Edward Harkness, heir to a fortune initiated by his father Stephen V. Harkness's substantial investments in John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil, who purchased the mansion in 1907. From 1918 to 1929, extensive improvements were made by landscape designer Beatrix Jones Farrand. Eolia was left to Connecticut in 1950 and became part of the State Park system in 1952.As Eolia—Harkness Estate, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The 220acre district that was listed included 15 contributing buildings and two other contributing structures.
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130 reviews
Google
4.7
  • It's a beautiful property with plenty of room for the children to run. Gardens, beach and pavilion. So much to see and the property is kept up so well. Try to go when they are giving a tour of the man...  more »
  • Please do visit when you are around this area of CT. Simply amazing and beautiful. Love this park. It is good for walks, scenic views, walk on the sand by the water, picnic, anything. Highly recommend...  more »
  • Great place for all ages. Perfect for a stroll, picnic, beach goers, wade in the sound. Nice scenery for photos.  more »
Google
  • Unexpected to find free parking here! The views are terrific and admission seems to be free on weekdays. Not overly crowded, but on the weekend it's probably packed. However, with the size of the lawns here you could have a few hundred family picnic at the same time and everyone would be comfortable! There is a small beach which is nice, but likely crowded in nice weather. Overall worth the stop!
  • We renewed our vows here and the place is beautiful. The ocean is always within view and they have gorgeous gardens and an old mansion. They close at sunset and after a certain time of day parking is free. If u ever want to visit and have photos professionally taken then book a session with Tracy Harvey, you won't regret it.
  • I've been going here since I was a kid, climbing the trees and pretending I was a princess in a castle strolling through the gardens. It's only improved since then, and the house and grounds are both beautiful, with a lovely beach for wading (don't swim—there's an undertow) and patches of pretty purple sand. I got married in the amphitheatre and had pictures taken on the beach and in the gardens, and they're all beautiful. It remains one of my favorite places.
  • Great little beachfront park. You can walk on the short beach (can't swim), picnic in the large grassy areas, stroll through the fine gardens, or just fly a kite. Great way to spend an afternoon.
  • Somewhat clean bathrooms. The beach is mainly used by people who want to fish, but swimming at their beach is hard anyways because of the rocks. No lifeguards either, but like I said, the beach is mainly used for fishing. The gardens by the mansion are beautifully maintained.