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21 Best Places to View the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

On April 8th, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cast its shadow over North America, including many states across the US. This rare spectacle is predicted to spark the biggest travel frenzy of the year, with up to 4 million people flocking to the “path of totality”.

This is an incredible astronomical wonder that won’t happen again in the US until 2044, so don’t miss your chance to experience the awe-inducing 2024 total solar eclipse.

Step aside David Attenborough, we’re talkin’ about a cosmic dance that will outshine even the most binge-worthy Netflix nature series!

But with lots of cities situated along the path of totality, where exactly is the best place to see the total solar eclipse in 2024? The hills of Pennsylvania? The woods of Arkansas? The fields of Ohio or the coasts of Maine? What about major cities like Indianapolis or Houston?

That’s what we set out to find while prepping for what is obviously going to be one of this year’s highlights and below we share the best places to view the 2024 total solar eclipse in the US.

Total solar eclipse

The Celestial Phenomenon Explained: What Is a Total Solar Eclipse?

Breaking down a total solar eclipse for the astronomy newbies (hello 🙋‍♀️) is like narrating a cosmic blockbuster: the moon swoops in, pulls a dramatic curtain move, and briefly turns day into night, leaving Earth puzzled and the sun wondering if it missed its cue!

But really…. what IS a total solar eclipse? What happens???

Let’s break it down.

As one of the most spectacular types of eclipse, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. In a total eclipse, the moon covers the sun’s disk entirely for just a few breathtaking minutes.

The result? The sky darkens dramatically, much like a deep dawn or dusk.

Mind. Blown.

However, the real show-stopper during totality is the corona—the sun’s outer atmosphere. Normally, it’s obscured by the blinding glare but now becomes visible as an ethereal halo surrounding the moon’s silhouette.

For viewers along the “path of totality” (where the moon fully covers the sun), there are distinct phases to watch for.

First, a partial eclipse begins as the moon starts passing over the sun, gradually making it look like a crescent. This phase takes its sweet time and might last more than an hour.

As the total eclipse proceeds, observers may spot “Baily’s beads,” which are scattered points of sunlight peeking through lunar valleys. But this sight is only there for a very short time—it’s a blink-and-you-miss-it sort of deal!

Then comes the striking “diamond ring” effect, where a single bright spot remains on the edge. That’s when you know totality is near.

Once totality hits, the diamond fades, and viewers can safely remove their solar filters to see the corona for a couple of minutes. This is the time to soak in the 360° sunset appearance and sudden drop in temperature. You may even see bright planets or stars in the sky.

After totality ends, the process reverses. And you’ll be left scratching your head like, “what the HECK did I just witness?!” Move aside, Eras Tour. This shiz will really take your breath away.

timelapse of the total solar eclipse in 2017 over a baseball field in Madras Oregon
A timelapse of the 2017 total solar eclipse over Oregon. Photo credit: Nasa

Why This Eclipse Is Special

A whole lot of universities, museums, and national parks along the path of totality have been prepping for this solar eclipse for years. Why is this particular event generating so much buzz?

For starters, it will be the last total solar eclipse over the contiguous US until 2044. So, you really don’t want to miss it!

But that’s not all that makes the 2024 total eclipse remarkable.

It’s expected to showcase an incredibly dramatic and structured solar corona compared to the 2017 Great American Eclipse.

Why? The sun will be near the peak of its activity cycle, meaning the corona will be even more prominent against the blackened sky.

The 2024 total solar eclipse path also hits the jackpot in terms of accessibility. It’ll cross over densely populated regions in several locations in North America, including much of the US.

After entering the US through Texas, the path of totality will slice through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Vermont before making its final sweep across to Maine.

So, it’s not that hard to find a good viewing location, but you need to mark your calendars and come prepared!

2024 Solar Eclipse path of totality - Nasa
Photo credit: Nasa

Expert Tips for a Stellar Viewing Experience

If the 2017 Great American Eclipse taught us anything, it’s that a little planning (and patience) goes a long way. There will be THOUSANDS of people “eclipse chasing”, so pack your favorite travel snacks, download your best playlists (we’ll be blasting “Total Eclipse of the Heart”), fuel up on gas, pack some fun games, and get there EARLY.

Below we share our best tips on how to prepare for the 2024 total solar eclipse:

Choosing the Perfect Spot

 

While a partial eclipse will be visible across a large swath of North America, to witness totality, you’ll want to position yourself along the path of totality (we’ll go over some of the best places to see the total solar eclipse in a moment!).

How close you’ll be to the centerline of the eclipse affects the total eclipse duration. That said, larger cities are usually your best bet. A smaller town may get overloaded with more viewers than its infrastructure can handle. 

Another factor? You’ll want clear sky conditions. But since we can’t predict the weather that far out (sorry!), we can only recommend that you make flexible plans and be ready to adjust your chosen spot if clouds threaten as the date nears.

Speaking of planning, you should start now. Campsites and hotels in the best places are already getting booked!

people lean against their car watching the 2017 solar eclipse

Photography Tips for Capturing the Moment

 

I’d recommend putting the phones and cameras aside and enjoying the moment. But if you’ll photograph it anyway, you might as well do it right.

Here are some nifty tips for photographing the total solar eclipse like a pro:

  • Use a filter. Invest in a specialized solar filter to protect your gear.
  • Level your Tripod. A sturdy tripod is essential since you’ll be shooting for an hour or so. Don’t forget to disable any image stabilization features.
  • Find Your Focus. Frame the sun in the center, use spot metering, and try going with a 200mm+ focal length lens.
  • Shoot the Totality. In the totality duration, remove filters, stick to low ISOs, and start heavily bracketing shots.
  • Absolutely No Flashes. You’ll only annoy nearby viewers.
  • Stock up on Memory. It’s best to shoot raw files and have a spare memory card on hand.

Just don’t get so caught up behind the viewfinder that you miss the show in front of your eyes!

Safety First: Protecting Your Eyes

 

Never ever look directly at the partially eclipsed sun without protective eyewear

I’m not talking about regular sunglasses, either. Safe solar viewers should meet the ISO 12312-2 standard.

If you’ve kept your glasses from 2017, make sure to inspect them beforehand. Are there any scratches? Toss them and buy new ones.

The only time you can safely view the total eclipse directly is during the fleeting totality phase when the moon fully blocks the sun. But before it ends, you should wear the total eclipse glasses again.

Two women stand facing the total solar eclipse

Prime Locations: Where to Watch the 2024 Eclipse

Now, let’s tackle the biggest question: What are the best total eclipse locations in the US?

Spotlight on Texas: The Eclipse Begins

 

In the US, the total solar eclipse 2024 path starts over the Lone Star State, with areas like Kerrville and Fredericksburg experiencing the beginning of the total eclipse at 1:32 pm CDT. These locations will get a generous 4 minutes and 25 seconds of totality.

In Dallas, the partial eclipse kicks off at 12:32 pm, but the totality won’t arrive until 1:40 pm, lasting 4 minutes or so.

Pretty much all national parks will witness the partial eclipse. But for the total eclipse, you want to be a bit more selective.

1. Garner State Park

One of the best parks in Texas for viewing the total eclipse is Garner State Park in Uvalde County. With fantastic weather conditions predicted, visitors can expect an unobstructed look at the total eclipse that starts at 1:30 pm and lasts around 4.5 minutes.

Since the park is hosting the Total Solar Eclipse Village, you can expect exhibitions and a massive viewing field. You know what that means? It’ll be a hotspot for astronomers!

2. Inks Lake State Park

In Inks Lake Park, you can see the total eclipse amidst blue waters. The totality there will start at 1:34 pm, shortly after Garner.

3. Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags in San Antonio offers total eclipse viewing packages.

Depending on which package you pick, you could catch dazzling fireworks and a choreographed drone show.

4. SeaWorld

Another San Antonio hotspot ready to double as a total eclipse viewing HQ is SeaWorld

Visitors can attend presentations from the Southwest Research Institute. These experts will provide all the total ecli[se details you could ask for (and maybe a bit more).

If you’re among the first 2,500 guests, you’ll get SeaWorld-themed viewing glasses. So make sure to arrive early (11:00 am).

5. The Lodge at Country Inn Cottages (With Bill Nye!)

The charming town of Fredericksburg has a seat on the path of totality for April’s eclipse.

Historically favorable weather patterns tell us that this area will likely have clear skies on the day. Plus, the Planetary Society Fredericksburg hosts the “Eclipse-O-Rama 2024” event with Bill Nye—yes, the science guy himself!

6. Fort Worth Botanic Gardens

For an unspoiled setting, make your way to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. The gardens’ North and South Vistas offer panoramic views as the sun’s rays slowly get obscured.

Want to pass the time while waiting? You’ll likely enjoy the total eclipse bingo.

7. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

The museum (and its vast front lawn space) offers another stellar viewing area in Fort Worth. Totality starts at 1:41 pm, but you’ll want to be there as early as 10 am to get a good spot.

From live musical performances from a brass quintet to hands-on science exhibits, there will be quite an atmosphere of excitement!

4 people wearing eclipse glasses watch the solar eclipse
Photo credit: Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Midwest Marvels: Missouri to Indiana

 

The total solar eclipse will sweep across the Midwest in the late afternoon, with cities like Poplar Bluff experiencing the partial eclipse at 12:39 pm CDT before totality kicks in at 1:56 pm (and ends at 2:00 pm). Cape Girardeau sees totality a couple of minutes later at 1:58 pm.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, Carbondale’s eclipse begins at 12:42 pm and reaches totality at 1:59 pm. Evansville, Indiana, gets its total eclipse between 2:02 and 2:05 pm after the partial phases begin at 12:45 pm.

Luckily, the Midwest states have total eclipse celebrations for every interest!

8. Missouri’s State and National Parks

Across Missouri’s state parks, there are 20 total eclipse locations. In other facilities, you’ll only be able to see the partial eclipse, where 84.9% to nearly 100% of the sun will be covered by the moon.

We don’t think you’re here for the partial eclipse, though.

So, you’ll want to focus on the 20 selected parks. You can view the full list, but the top picks are the East Prairie of Big Oak Tree State Park, Pilot Knob Historic Site, Echo Bluff State Park, and Campbell in Morris State Park.

Plus, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways will hold the “Zark Side of the Moon” (yes, it’s quite the punny name!) event at Big Spring, promising around 4 minutes of total eclipse. 

Little kids will really love the Junior Ranger program, the hot air balloon shows, the solar system simulations, and more.

9. Show Me Center

For 2024, expect the Show Me Center to pull out all the stops with exhibitors and activities for over 40,000 eager attendees. Its position just off the university campus offers an ideal totality viewing for a duration of 4+ minutes.

10. Shawnee National Forest

Located in southern Illinois, this expansive national forest is a good spot to camp out and see the solar eclipse’s totality for a duration of 3 minutes and 27 seconds.

While hot spots like Garden of the Gods and Lake Glendale will fill quickly, primitive camping and dispersed camping sites make it easy to stake out your own viewing spot.

11. Southern Illinois University

Leave it to a top educational institute to put on an out-of-this-world total eclipse experience!

SIU Carbondale is going all out by canceling classes on April 8th for the “Crossroads Eclipse Festival“―a multi-day celebration.

But the main event is the guided Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium. Don’t miss it out!

12. Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway is opening its gates to the public in partnership with NASA.

There, you can enjoy a full day of demo laps and autograph sessions from astronauts and race car drivers!

13. Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Want to make the total eclipse an educational family affair? The “Eclipse Extravaganza” in Indiana might be the best place for you.

Your little ones can take part in giveaways and games that’ll make this a memory they’ll never forget.

two people sitting in a camping tent looking out at the scenery
Camping is a great option to get away from eclipse-chasing crowds!

The Final Curtain in New York

 

New York has some of the most spectacular viewing opportunities and celebratory events. Whether you want an urban setting or a scenic backdrop, this state has you covered.

14. Buffalo State University

Buffalo will witness the total eclipse, with totality occurring between 3:18 and 3:22 pm EDT.

Lucky for you, Buffalo State University is rolling out a full-on festival at the Coyer Field viewing area.

Your admission ticket gets you a swag bag stocked with a commemorative shirt, total eclipse glasses, a reusable shopping bag, and a couple of surprise gifts. Quite tempting!

15. USS Little Rock

Why watch the total eclipse from land when you can experience this phenomenon from a historic naval ship?

The Buffalo Naval & Military Park is offering incredibly unique total solar eclipse packages aboard vessels like the USS Little Rock.

Book a Day Pass or, for an overnight thrill, the Eclipse Youth Encampment lets you bunk on a battleship.

16. Knox Farm State Park

This park’s EAclipse Celebration (active from 12–6 pm) is brought to you by NASA/JPL ambassadors.

Ticket holders to the total eclipse get insights into telescopes and astro-imaging. But it’s not all education. Expect music and food stalls as well.

17. Memorial Art Gallery

The MAG in Rochester is hosting a “Soleil Soirée” viewing party in the Centennial Sculpture Park.

Rochester will witness the beginning of the eclipse at 2:07 pm. At 3:20 pm, totality begins and lasts for a duration of around 3.5 minutes.

18. Rochester Red Wings’ Innovative Field

On April 8, the Red Wings’ baseball stadium will feature SolarPalooza, one of Rochester’s biggest total eclipse festivals!

In addition to live music and face painting, you’ll get total solar eclipse glasses (if you’re among the first 3,000 people).

19. Rochester Museum and Science Center

As another total solar eclipse viewing hub in Rochester, the RMSC on East Avenue is throwing down with their Roc The Eclipse Fest.

If you register in advance, they’ll get guaranteed admission to exhibitions, hands-on activities, planetarium shows, entertainment, and a totality duration of roughly 3.5 minutes.

When you’re done watching the celestial phenomenon, you can head to the post-eclipse concert to keep the fun going!

20. Seneca Lake

The city of Geneva at the top of Seneca Lake is hosting the “Embrace The Dark” celebration with all its exhibits, tours, kids’ events, merchandise, and front-row seats for the 2 minutes, 20 seconds of totality.

Schools in the area are even canceled so families can participate!

21. The Adirondacks and Lake Placid

Another prime spot is New York’s Adirondack Mountains, with Lake Placid serving as a base.

For most of us, viewing parties like the one hosted by the Olympic Center’s Speed Skating Oval is a good enough option. Just note that it’ll start at 1 pm ahead of the 2:13 pm eclipse.

What if you’re feeling adventurous? Hit the trails for an unobstructed, south-facing view!

 

FAQs: Everything You Need to Know About the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

Can I View the Eclipse Without Glasses?

Absolutely not! Staring directly at the partially eclipsed sun, even for a few seconds, can permanently damage your retinas. Sunglasses don’t protect ya either.

To safely look at any phase other than the totality, you need total solar eclipse glasses.

But What If It’s Cloudy?

Under a cloud cover, you’ll still experience the unusual daytime darkness of the total solar eclipse.

But if the conditions are totally uncooperative, you can tune into a live stream from one of the best places for total eclipse viewing, like Exploratorium’s broadcast from Junction, Texas.

How Can I Photograph the Eclipse Without Damaging My Camera?

Just as you need proper eye protection, your camera needs a specialized solar filter to soften the intense sunlight. You’ll want to temporarily remove the filter for the duration of totality, though.

solar eclipse through clouds

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