In celebration of our newest museum pass, the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, I decided to do my blog on all the amazing money-saving passes that the library offers. For those of you unfamiliar with these museum passes, the library offers them to Litchfield residents and they offer great deals on admission, with either a free or discounted price.
The Oliver Wolcott Library currently has 15 different museum passes to diverse destinations, but OWL also has duplicates of certain passes for a total of 25. There is a museum pass display case by the large print book section which displays our museum pass binders. In these binders there is information on each museum destination, including hours, directions, brochures and special events.
A museum pass is the perfect item to accompany you on your day off, especially if you’re looking for a fun adventure! My favorite is the state park pass. It is the most versatile pass, as it waives any state park entrance fee allowing you to enjoy all of our scenic parks without hurting your wallet. This summer I discovered how to get the most out of the state park pass by visiting multiple parks in one day.
As a beach lover, I try to get down to the shore whenever I can and my favorite beach is at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic, CT. So naturally my first stop with my state park pass was at this beach. Rocky Neck beach is an Atlantic Ocean cove, with scenic views, a snack shop, a beautiful stone building, and many places to explore including a jetty.
From Litchfield it is about an hour and a half drive, but well worth it, especially because with the state park pass, the usual $10 entrance fee is now free! The beach is always kept clean and in my two years of going to this little oasis it has never been overly crowded. The food is always good and I like to watch the train go by on the tracks that boarder the beach. I love to lounge on the sand and walk the shoreline, and I always adventure to the end of the jetty.
The jetty is one of the absolute highlights of venturing out to this beach. Although not for everyone, if you’re up to testing your bouldering skills, this is where to do it. You have to maneuver from rock to rock to create a path to reach the end.
After Rocky Neck I was ready to go to another state park. Less than twenty minutes down the road in Waterford, CT is another remarkable park, called Harkness Memorial State Park. Normally another $15 entrance fee, I only have my state park pass to thank for not having to go into my wallet to get in.
The ride to Harkness is very scenic as you pass through a small ocean town and wind down a road that is lined by trees and lots of greenery. On your way to Harkness if you’re lucky, you might get to witness the road split in two by the harbor to let large boats come in! I was lucky enough to get the red light and eagerly got out of my car and watched both bridges lift up for a large sailboat.
…………………… Road-bridge opening for boat Train track bridge next to road opening for boat
Harkness State Park was once a privately owned estate by Edward and Mary Harkness. When the couple had moved out they donated it to the state specifically for children with disabilities, but anyone can visit. It is a breath-taking park, with a vast grass field and picnic tables, a private ocean front beach (no swimming) and a mansion with beautiful flower gardens that you can walk through.
If you have extra time and plan ahead you can also sign up to take a tour of the mansion! I would definitely recommend this park to anyone that is looking to be captivated by the ocean as its expansive green lawns boarder the Atlantic, and you can sit and watch large boats go by in the distance or see jelly fish and other sea creatures come close to the shore.
My final stop I made with my state park pass is Gillette Castle in East Haddam. Located about 30 minutes from Harkness, it is the perfect way to end the day out. (Sandwiched in between Harkness and Gillette is the dinosaur state park in Rocky Hill, CT, which if you have time is also a great park to explore.) If you’ve never seen Gillette castle, I highly recommend visiting it at least once because the rock structures are completely captivating.
Gillette castle is perched atop a pronounced hill; with hand crafted stone artwork designed by American actor William Gillette, most famous for his role as Sherlock Holmes, and is nothing less than a stunning sight. At the castle you can enjoy picturesque hikes on the trails, tour the castle, or my favorite, watch the boats on the water below, don’t forget to stop for a delicious treat at the snack shop or use the public indoor restroom! After Gillette, I find my way back onto the highway and head home exhausted.
The state park pass is one of the many passes that OWL offers its patrons. There is a large variety of different passes from art museums to aquariums and nature centers. The passes are allowed out for three days with no renewals and you cannot call ahead to reserve a pass. There is a $5.00 a day fine for every day the pass is late, so make sure you return it on time in case another patron has planned to use the pass next. For information on what the passes offer or the destination, you can check the display binders or the website at owlibrary.org, under programs and select museum passes.
By using the library’s state park pass I enjoyed a spectacular day and saved $25. I am now looking forward to going to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center and even more excited to use our newest pass to this museum and not have to pay the admission fee!
~~ Jacqueline Z is a Library Assistant for the Oliver Wolcott Library ~~
Here is a complete list of OWL passes: