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Destinations & Day Trips

An afternoon at Harkness Memorial State Park

Harkness Memorial State Park
Written by Sean Henri

The sights at Harkness Memorial State park in Waterford never cease to amaze us. Head there to see an elegant mansion, spectacular gardens, and extensive views of Long Island Sound.

Among the list of many sights and views in this state is Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, CT, home to an elegant mansion, spectacular gardens, and extensive views of Long Island Sound.

Rain, snow, or shine, no matter what time of year it is or what the weather is outside, you’ll want to make your way out to Harkness Memorial. Garden lovers, ocean admirers, or architecture enthusiasts, there is something here for everyone to ogle at.

The Park

Harkness Memorial is a 230-acre state park that also contains extravagant botanical gardens and greenhouses. The park is located in Waterford, Connecticut on the Long Island Sound. Aside from the alluring gardens, foliage, long boardwalk allowing a relaxing walk to the shore, and the views of the sound, also on the property lies Eolia, a ravishing 42-room mansion.



The 111 year old manor was built in 1906 as a summer home for the Harkness family. The mansion is often chosen by many for wedding receptions and other elegant or formal events as the estate can be rented out from March 1 to December 23. The mansion is open for tours on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

Harkness family mansion


The park is filled with benches in various locations around the property. Dogs are allowed on the grounds and along the beach as well. It’s the perfect place to walk your pet while also treating yourself to some stunning views.


All visitors of the park are welcome to fish off the beach along the shoreline. Some fish you can expect to catch include blackfish, bluefish, and striped bass, all of which can be caught off the rocky point and summer flounder off the beach.

Walk on the beach

If You Want to Go

The gates at Harkness Memorial State Park open at 8am and close at sunset, year round. The Verkades gate is closed all year and is walk-in access only. The park is also handicap accessible. There are weekend/holiday parking fees. As Connecticut residents visiting on a weekday, the parking fee is $6 (cash only). Weekday rates for non-residents are $10 and weekend rates are $9 (residents) and $15 (non-residents).

This article was originally published in 2009, but has been updated for accuracy and style. 

About the author

Sean Henri

Sean is the founder and editor of The Connecticut Weekender, and CEO and Founder of Pepperland Marketing. He's a lifelong CT resident and frequently blogs about the outdoors, beer, food, family life and small business in CT. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanHenri.

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