A summertime visit to Lake Superior’s North Shore affords a terrific range of options for dining, sightseeing, hikes and nature, and culture. A top Superior destination is the historic Glensheen for those looking to enjoy history, architecture, and beautiful grounds. Built as a private home between 1905 and 1908 for Chester and Clara Congdon, today the 12-acre estate is the most visited historic home in the state, with gorgeous gardens and bridges surrounding the 39-room home featuring breathtaking 20th-century craftsmanship and an intact collection of personal items and possessions that belonged to the original owners.
This summer Glensheen’s new offerings make each visit unique, whether it’s your first time or you make an annual pilgrimage. Atop the list is a self-guided General Admission tour experience. In response to feedback from those who prefer to see Glensheen at their own pace—including seniors, young people, and those who love to linger over the details. With a new guided tour mobile app, including an audio tour and navigational features, visitors can soak up the atmosphere at their own pace. And for those who love guided tours, there’s no need to fret—they’re still offered and, as with self-guided tours, include new spaces not previously open in the past. Glensheen has also introduced the Treasure Book, a fun scavenger hunt, as part of the self-guided tour which is perfect for kids! It’s available for $1 in the Ticket House. Specific to the warm weather months, Glensheen also offers the Summer Evening Tour, with a guided experience through all five floors of the mansion. In July and August, enjoy a narrated walk through the Vegetable and Formal gardens, onto the famous Stone Arch Bridge and a showcase of the rarely opened Boathouse. The gardens are at their magnificent peak in these summer months, and guests can enjoy raspberries on the vine and stay to catch the sunset on the lake at the end of this two-hour tour.
Also on the grounds is the Lake Superior Beach Club, the only place to legally enjoy a drink on the Duluth shore of the lake. With lawn games, bonfires, board games on picnic tables, and food delivery from local restaurants, guests enjoy the lakeshore through July and August with no admission requirement—just a recommendation to relax and enjoy the wonder of the moment.
While you’re planning your trip, keep in mind the free Wednesday community events at Glensheen. In June, weekly Beer Gardens feature the best of North Shore breweries; July Concerts on the Pier showcase music artists from jazz to blues and acoustic sounds; Wine Wednesdays in August partner with local experts to sample wines from around the world. With natural and architectural beauty combined with yesterday’s history and a dash of today’s fun, Glensheen waits by the lakeshore as a vital monument to Minnesota’s rich legacy, while offering a range of vivid, enjoyable experiences. Glensheen’s extended summer hours are from July 1 to August 24: Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.