The 2024 solar eclipse is expected to be the largest mass travel event ever in the U.S.—a celestial experience expected to be breathtaking, spiritual, and impactful.
On April 8, 2024, the duration of totality will be up to 4 minutes and 27 seconds, almost double that of The Great American Eclipse of August 2017, which was viewed by more than 20 million people from Oregon to South Carolina. The upcoming 2024 eclipse is anticipated to be witnessed by many millions more, says Michael Zeiler, famed eclipse cartographer, and co-founder of the Great American Eclipse.
In the U.S., totality will begin in Texas at 1:27 p.m. CDT and end in Maine at 3:35 p.m. EDT; Great American Eclipse will debut a soon-to-be-released new mobile app, showing exact times and durations in many select locations along the path of totality.
States with path-of-totality bragging rights include: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The major cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., are all within 200 miles of the path of totality, according to Zeiler. More than 32 million people already live inside the path, and the tourist numbers are expected to be staggering.
Before turning your eyes (safely) skyward in 2024, keep an eye out for ideal viewing spots and tie-in packages and events as you plan out your once-in-a-lifetime road trip. Here’s a sampling of some hot spots to witness the eclipse.
The eclipse path will cover the southern half of Indiana, from southwest to northeast, including Indianapolis.
A major city in the path of totality, Indy is racing to go all out to celebrate its first total eclipse in more than 800 years. Indianapolis is also in the top 15 of U.S. cities for producing astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, an alumnus of Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Hotel Indy, a new Marriott Tribute property honoring the city’s history, is within walking distance to the Indiana World War Memorial and American Legion Mall, which are recommended viewing zones. Traveling with kids? Check into Crowne Plaza, where you can sleep in original Pullman train cars on the original tracks. Located on the site of the world’s first ever Union Station, Thomas Edison once worked here. Much to Edison’s chagrin, Indy will turn out the lights throughout the city to enhance the dark viewing experience.
Other recommended experiences include visiting White River State Park, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Newfields (the art museum will celebrate the event in a unique way), and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
Wholly within the path-of-totality line, this county in the Hoosier State is an ideal spot to view the star-studded phenomenon.
Visit Conner Prairie, a famed interactive history museum and Indiana’s first Smithsonian affiliate; bike the Monon Trail; picnic on the banks of the White River; and get jazzed for the eclipse while staying at the music-inspired Hotel Carmichael.
“It’s a secret nook that’s just a bit cheaper and less crowded than the cities will be, but offers a wonderful family experience for the before and after eclipse time,” says a Hamilton spokesperson.
The arc of the eclipse will cross western and northern New York state, including the Adirondack Mountains.
Way up north, this picturesque town knows how to celebrate stars—after all, it hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Lake Placid will experience 3 minutes and 21.1 seconds of totality.
The High Peaks Resort will throw a party with a band to celebrate the spectacle, and it’s in the process of developing packages to promote the dark sky regions of the Adirondacks, as well packages for the event itself.
Niagara County is spot on for the celestial eclipse, anticipated to last almost 4 minutes here. Of course, there are also those waterfalls surrounding Niagara Falls State Park that are a sure must-see while visiting, and a wine trail, too.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Niagara Falls is a stellar option for a stay—it’s within walking distance of Niagara Falls State Park with scenic views of the Niagara River.
Learn more about the destination’s solar eclipse programming here.
Buffalo is less than an hour’s drive from Niagara Falls, and city plans are underway for events and hotel packages at popular sites, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Wing Trail, and historic Frank Lloyd Wright structures.
The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, a AAA four-diamond hotel located in the western New York town of Celoron, sits pretty on the shores of Lake Chautauqua, with 135 guest rooms, many with lake view balconies—and in the path of totality. Book the eclipse package, which includes double accommodations with a Sunday check-in, keepsake blankets, a champagne toast and snacks while viewing the eclipse on Monday, and dinner for two.
Rochester is also in the direct path and will experience 3 minutes and 38 seconds of complete totality, worthy of celebratory festivals and concerts.
“The Rochester Museum & Science Center has been instrumental in this planning process, and they are leading the charge by organizing community stakeholders with plans for transportation, and safe viewing access within the community,” says a spokesperson for the city. For updates, visit Rochester Eclipse 2024.
The state will witness the solar eclipse for 3 minutes and 15 seconds, and the viewing area in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods will be particularly special. For statewide updates, see Visit NH.
The Omni Mount Washington Resort is located at the base of Mount Washington in Northern New Hampshire—the highest peak in the Northeast at 6,288 feet—and is surrounded by nearly 800,000 acres of the White Mountain National Forest. Celebrating its 122nd anniversary in 2024, the resort will offer tie-in events and activities for the eclipse.
As always, expect big things deep in the heart of Texas—including a prime location in the path of totality. Texas will likely be a preferred viewing location for several reasons—the probability of clear skies; its large cities, like Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, that can accommodate tourists; and road networks that can support the traffic and enable movement if cloudy skies are present.
GiddyUp to “The Cowboy Capital of the World” (as recognized by the Texas Historical Commission, as well as the Texas and U.S. legislature), this small town with a big heart is one of the nation’s premier dark sky destinations and will experience 4 minutes and 3.8 seconds of totality.
The Mayan Dude Ranch offers an eclipse package that includes accommodations, viewing glasses, and a watch party with unobstructed views from the ranch’s expansive grounds with a resident astronomer. Meals (featuring barbecue, fried catfish, and steaks) are included, as well as activities, such as twice-daily horseback rides, hayrides, breakfast cookouts, and evening entertainment from trick roping to live music and dancing.
The Pine Tree State expects an influx of out-of-state and local visitors. Many hotels have been receiving reservation requests since last year, according to the state’s senior tourism officer.
The towns of Houlton, Jackman, and Greenville will particularly experience a significant surge of visitation during that weekend, and the state’s tourism office is providing information from other states and local astronomers who have previously witnessed such an event. Communities are working closely with local traffic and safety agencies to ensure a smooth day.
Visitors can expect special menus at restaurants, merchandise, and special activities. For example, Houlton will offer tours of the renowned to-scale solar system that runs along Route 1.
The Maine Office of Tourism will provide visitors with solar eclipse glasses, and Visit Maine will include updated lodging and event info.
The state hasn’t seen a solar eclipse in more than 200 years and is already preparing for the event in 2024. Ohio Total Solar Eclipse lists parks and recreation areas for eclipse viewing and other resources.
In the Midwest, a path-of-totality jackpot will last just under 4 minutes in Cleveland, which is one of the longest durations for major cities in the path. Eclipse chasers will have unobstructed views over Lake Erie and can experience themed activities developed by local science institutions, including the NASA Glenn Research Center and Great Lakes Science Center.
Destination Cleveland has a special eclipse page featuring a countdown clock, information on the path of totality, and an email sign-up for information as the big day nears, as well as details for community celebrations and viewing events.
Tips for planning a road trip around the solar eclipse
Plan now, book early. The day of the eclipse will be one of the heaviest travel days in U.S. history. Ideally, you want to stay off the roads. Arrive at least a day before the eclipse, preferably two. Also, plan on staying again that night after the eclipse. Fortunately, April 8 falls on a Monday, so you can stretch the bucket-list trip out for a long weekend.
Consider the weather. Springtime can be a fickle season. Some areas of Texas are almost always clear in April, but places along the path of totality in New York have a 50 percent chance of being overcast on an average spring day.
Gear up. Remember, you’ll need to protect your eyes when viewing the eclipse with special solar viewers and eclipse glasses or shades. Never look directly at the sun, even during a total eclipse.