If you’ve taken the Classic Tour, that’s a fine way to enter into the Glensheen world. It takes you through the main, second floor and lower levels of the storied mansion. However, there’s a LOT more to see of the historic Congdon estate.
Glensheen has been developing new tours and has gone from just a couple regular features to 14 experiences! There’s behind-the-scenes glimpses, opportunities to paddle kayaks, details about the servants’ lives and sauntering on trails. In short: there’s plenty more to discover.
Let’s start with that Classic Tour. It’s family-friendly, tells the story of the Congdon family and allows you to see the handsome first and second floors plus the lower level of the mansion.
Also, from 9AM — 4PM, it’s self-guided! This allows you to set the pace for your perfect tour. During self-guided tours, guides are stationed in each room to show you a specific artifact of the day. Often, these are from the collection not normally on display.
The Classic Tour lasts about 1 hour.
If you’ve only been on the classic, you’ve missed a staff favorite: the third floor. That level has the Congdon Boys’ rooms, including their charming lounge. There’s even a few rooms that have recently been restored back to their original glory.
Something that makes the third floor special is the furniture. It was created by famed interior designer John Bradstreet who has his own room in the Minnesota Institute of Art. Though over a century old now, his pieces still feel beautifully contemporary. (I’ll admit to daydreaming that some of these pieces were in my own home, as they’d fit right in.)
This tour also includes a trip to the attic, up a curving narrow staircase. It’s here that many original items are stored today. (I mean, who doesn’t want to see the attic?)
The Full Mansion Tour lasts about 1.5 hours.
Nooks & Crannies
Ever wondered what’s behind all those locked doors at Glensheen?
Now you can be part of this behind-the-scenes tour of previously restricted areas, peeking in secret cabinets along the way. (Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.)
This includes the second floor of the Carriage House with its hand-operated freight elevator, a trip through the rarely opened boathouse and Clara’s private balcony.
The Nooks & Crannies Tour is great for if you’ve previously visited and long to see new areas and hidden details.
As the Nooks & Crannies tour does not cover as much of the Congdon family story as other tours, first-time Glensheen guests might want to pair a Nooks & Crannies Tour with either a Classic or Full Mansion Tour. This will ensure one gets the full Glensheen experience.
The Nooks & Crannies tour lasts about 1.5 hours.
Here’s a chance to see Glensheen from its working side.
This tour explores the servants wing of the mansion exclusively from the perspective of a 1910 staff member and visits spaces not seen on other tours.
You’ll enter the mansion through the servants’ hall, imagining yourself working in the sewing room, linen closet, downstairs maid’s room and the newly-opened garage.
Be immersed in the stories of the iconic English butler, the problem-solving cook, and so many more responsible for bringing this vast estate to life during the golden age. You’ll even hear about some staff romance!
The Servants tour lasts about 1.5 hours.
Summer Evening Tour
Frankly, this tour combines many of our best elements into one tour.
Get a guided experience through all five floors of Glensheen — including the attic. Plus, as a highlight only available in July and August, enjoy a narrated walk through our Vegetable & Formal gardens, onto our famous Stone Arch Bridge and finish with a showcase of the Boathouse.
During the summer months, our gardens are at their gorgeous peak. August visitors are likely to enjoy complimentary raspberries from the vine, depending on ripeness.
PRO TIP: Try to catch sunset on the estate. With our Lake Superior backdrop, it’s memorable.
The Summer Evening Tour lasts about 2 hours.
Best Damn Tour
The Best Damn Tour at Glensheen is just that — the best damn tour.
You begin with an hour-long kayak experience, launching from Glensheen’s historic Lake Superior shoreline. There are outstanding views of the beautiful rock face and glimpses of two neighboring mansions once owned by Chester and Clara Congdon’s children. Guests then come ashore to enjoy a sunset over Lake Superior next to a bonfire complete with s’mores.
Then, in the dark of the night, experience the mansion in a unique light with a guided Flashlight Tour to round out the evening.
With a maximum capacity of four people, the 3-hour Best Damn Tour is sure to be an exclusive Glensheen experience.
It’s hard to imagine a more photogenic place as Glensheen.
Shutterbugs enjoy the formal gardens and views of Lake Superior from Glensheen’s 100-foot pier — with plenty of time to compose great shots. Guests also have the chance to capture a crowd-favorite room inside the mansion: the Breakfast Room.
The Photo Tour offers the freedom to take pictures in the most popular spots, while providing time to freely experience the Midwest’s most-visited house museum.
Professional and amateur photographers alike are welcomed. Photo tours are best for those who have visited in the past and want to capture its beauty. All types of cameras and tripods are encouraged, as both indoor and outdoor locations will be visited.
Photo Tours are pre-sale only and can be ordered online or by calling 218–726–8910 or 888–454-GLEN.
To be honest, the grounds tour is a guide favorite that not enough people take advantage of. We get it — the mansion is the main attraction and all, but wow, the grounds, gardens and paths are magical.
This guided walk around the 12-acre estate Congdon property satisfies enthusiastic horticulturists and inquisitive history buffs alike with its interpretation of the vegetable and formal flower gardens. It delves into Chester Congdon’s vision for a sustainable estate, passion for experimental plants and his fervor for land preservation during the era in which the National Park System was born.
Glensheen’s all-inclusive experience, the Premier Tour covers each and every room in the 39-room, 27,000 square-foot mansion. Guests will venture through all five floors of the mansion, even the previously closed third floor and attic. Not only is the entire mansion explored, but also the Nooks & Crannies spaces of restricted areas. Guests will round out the tour with a guided walk through the gardens and complete 12-acre, lakeside Congdon Estate.
With a capacity limit of four people, guests will enjoy a personalized tour and the flexibility of choosing their specific emphasis. The tour will run over 2 hours long.
Limited Mobility Tour
Glensheen has a lot of stairs. A lot. But now, a guided tour has been developed which avoids stairs. Guests get to enjoy all of the lavish first-floor rooms, such as the Reception Room, Living Room, Library, and beloved Breakfast Room.
The beautifully restored hardwood floors in the Lower Level will delight everyone in the group as the tour moves through additional servant spaces and into the Billiards and Amusement Rooms.
Day Tripper of Duluth and Duluth Experience are proud to offer Kayak Tours at Glensheen throughout the summer on a variety of days. Dates, times and prices may vary between companies.
To learn more or book a Kayak Tour, please click on the link below.
On the Director’s Tour, you will enjoy an exclusive Glensheen experience. As a previous tour guide and history buff, our director Dan shares intriguing stories of Glensheen and the Congdon family along the way. Not only is the entire mansion explored, but also the Nooks & Crannies spaces of previously restricted areas. You’ll see spaces such as the silver safe, which only the Director has a key for.
Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes! The beautifully landscaped 12-acre estate and grounds are his favorite.
21+ Flashlight Tour
Flashlight Tours — with a twist. First, you will need to be 21 or older to be on the tour. This is not for kids. As part of admission, guests receive a branded Glensheen Flashlight Tour pint glass with… a sippy cup cover. (No, really.) The cover allows you to bring your glass and alcoholic beverage INSIDE the mansion.
What else is new? The addition of Glensheen’s newest space available to the public for tour — The Carriage House Living Room. Here, enjoy the warmth of a live fire — the only working fireplace on the estate.
Inside the mansion, all the lights have been turned off. Each group is accompanied by two guides who will illuminate pieces throughout the house, which allows you to appreciate our rare collection in a new way. Guests on the 21+ Flashlight Tour will see four floors of the mansion, including the previously closed third floor.
Due to the nature of this tour, patrons must be 21 years of age or older. Any intoxicated patrons will be refused admission with no refund. Glensheen requests that guests do not bring their own flashlights.
Candlelight Christmas Tour
This is something special. Picture this: the mansion illuminated only by twinkly lights of the Christmas decor. Sweet, right? This gorgeous display may just become a necessary part of your Christmas bucket list.