Your Ultimate Guide to Navigating the April Solar Eclipse: Must-Try Activities and Safety Tips!

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Your Ultimate Guide to Navigating the April Solar Eclipse: Must-Try Activities and Safety Tips!

On April 8th, wherever you go, those three or four minutes of darkness during the day – no matter how spectacular they may be – won’t be enough to witness a total solar eclipse.

Perhaps you might want to turn it into a weekend-worthy activity while staying at some fun-filled destination or indulging in some self-care. Or maybe you prefer to pair this bucket list event with someone else. Indeed, it’s a celestial spectacle worth marking on your calendar, for it will be nearly two decades and one year before we witness another total solar eclipse of such grandeur grace the skies above the contiguous United States. So, seize the opportunity, gather your loved ones, and bask in the awe-inspiring beauty of this rare cosmic event while it’s here to mesmerize us.

The path of totality starts from the Pacific Coast of Mexico, traverses 13 American states, heads northeast, and ends in Newfoundland, Canada, offering a plethora of eclipse-facing events to choose from, catering to any whim or desire. Here are 31 options.

Explore with NASA

Space enthusiasts, kids at heart, and true science buffs can appreciate a bit of guidance from NASA scientists, who will be spreading out across various events along the eclipse path – from free or reasonably priced programs in places like Mazatlan, Mexico; Austin, Dallas, Kerrville, Stonewall, and Waco, Texas; Carbondale, IL; Cleveland; and Niagara Falls, NY. NASA has teamed up with Purdue University and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a day-long track tour and STEM conferences ($20).

Tie the Knot

Among astrologers, a total solar eclipse symbolizes a new beginning, making it a auspicious backdrop for a wedding. In Russellville, AR (April 6 to 8), during the total eclipse of the heart, you can come for the weekend for hot air balloon rides, barbecues, and hatchet throwing, and stay for a collective wedding ceremony, scheduled just minutes before the eclipse. Tickets for each day of festivities are $100 (no additional charge for getting married); interested newlyweds must register for the ceremony at totaleclipserussellville.com/elope. In Junction, Texas (April 6 to 8), at the Texclipse Music Festival, you can make a collective commitment during the eclipse, along with enjoying local entertainment and a chili cook-off. A weekend pass costs $135, and the wedding fee is $100, which includes 10 photos of the ceremony. You still need to apply in advance for a marriage license for each festival (you may want to get this as soon as possible).

Choose Your Soundtrack

Texas is heavy on offering music with some big-name lineups. Get ready to groove at the Texas Eclipse Festival in Burnett (April 5 to 9), where apart from over 100 acts including Tiga, Golden Dawn Orchestra, and Disco Biscuits, the festival will present a thrilling series of entertainment, featuring art collective Meow Wolf. A four-day general admission pass is $349, with accommodations ranging from car camping ($175) to glamping tents ($1,750). In Waco, at the Eclipse Over Texas Festival, bands like Band of Horses on April 5th and Big Boi and Arrested Development on April 6th will headline free music events during the eclipse. And in Austin, at the Moody Amphitheater in Waterloo Park, Vampire Weekend will spread their light in the darkness during Vampire Weekend (April 8), which is frontman Ezra Koenig’s 40th birthday. While the event may be officially sold out, fear not! You can still snag your tickets through various resale platforms such as StubHub and Ticketmaster. Don’t miss out on the excitement and grab your chance to experience the magic of the show firsthand. Act fast before these coveted tickets vanish into thin air!

Arkansas is set to make some noise too. For those craving a musical experience that speaks to the soul, mark your calendars for the Ecliptic Festival in Hot Springs (April 5th to 8th). This celestial celebration promises an eclectic lineup featuring the enchanting melodies of Blond Redhead, the cosmic jazz odyssey of the Sun Ra Orchestra, the ethereal harp sounds of Mary Lattimore, the experimental rhythms of Deerhoof, and the quirky tunes of Quintron. A four-day pass costs $385, with day passes starting at $70. Embark on a luxurious outdoor adventure with our glamping packages, offering an array of experiences priced between $1,350 to $1,650. Alternatively, if you prefer a more traditional camping experience under the stars, you can bring your own tent at just $85 per night or $300 for the entire weekend. The choice is yours – indulge in extravagance or immerse yourself in nature’s embrace. About 200 miles northeast, in Dyess, you can celebrate the black sky before the eclipse at the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. The full-weekend Eclipse Camping Package ($400) includes parking from April 5th to 9th and a 20 by 20-foot space for car camping, along with four tickets to the Arkansas Roots Music Festival happening in April. Step into an extraordinary adventure with our exclusive offer, which not only grants you access to four tickets for the captivating NASA Lunch and Learn event on April 7th but also provides you with four pairs of the iconic Johnny Cash Boyhood Eclipse Glasses. It’s not just an event; it’s an experience of a lifetime, blending science with nostalgia in the most unforgettable way imaginable. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to witness history and style combined. Unfortunately, Dyess lies just outside the path of totality, so to witness the eclipse in its full glory, you’ll need to drive about an hour west.

Bluegrass musician Ricky Skaggs is among the top names in its lineup, Solar Strings Festival (April 5th to 8th) in Missouri Ozarks will fill its 700-plus acre site with the sound of guitars, banjos, fiddles, and much more. A four-day general admission pass, which includes car camping, is $145; glamping packages are also available.

Ride the Rails or Hike the Trails

Some spots are still available on Solar Eclipse Limited, where fully restored Pullman cars will depart from New York’s Penn Station on April 7th bound for Niagara Falls, NY. There, the train will function as a mini-hotel, providing meals and accommodation as you enjoy the divine views. If the price tag of over $8,000 is a bit steep, you can journey to Arcade Village in Western New York and embark on a trip on the Vintage Arcade and Attica Railroad, departing at 2 p.m. on April 8th and stopping at 3:19 p.m. for totality viewing. Tickets for adults are $22 and $19 for children. If you prefer to swim in snow, Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont is hosting a week-long Winter Eclipse Carnival, ending with a Winter Eclipse Carnival from noon to 4 p.m. on April 8th.

Race for the Border

Since the eclipse begins in Mexico and ends in eastern Canada, you have the option to go in any direction. Heading south will likely bless you with the best weather (the chance of clouds lingering over most Mexican towns and cities along the path is about 20 to 30 percent on average). Mazatlán is the safest bet. Hotel rooms are still available, and there’s an extensive boardwalk where you and your companions can gather to witness the eclipse in its entirety, which will last for 4 minutes and 27 seconds.

In Canada, one will marvel at the kaleidoscope of colors cast over Niagara Falls, as the hues of light, like blues and greens, effortlessly scatter throughout the entirety. Among the prime spots to witness the eclipse in the region are the Skylon, Butterfly Conservatory, and Queen Victoria Park, where upon reaching the eclipse’s zenith, the Niagara Symphony Orchestra will kick off a free rock concert. In Montreal, you’ll find yourself blending horizon views with the darkness of the day on an island in the Saint Lawrence River. Parc Jean-Drapeau has teamed up with the Space for Life Planetarium to offer an afternoon of education and entertainment before the sun’s rays, all free of charge. The only downside is that Montreal sits on the edge of totality, meaning it will only be in darkness for just over two minutes (but hey, at least you’ll be in Montreal!).

Entertain the Kids

If you’re taking your kids to witness the eclipse, they’ll need some distractions. What better than an indoor water park like Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio? Conveniently located near the path of totality, it offers free wolf ear headbands for the kids and moon pies for all eclipse viewers. A family suite inclusive of unlimited access to the park will set you back around $330 per night. If you’re interested in extending your journey in time, you can also find kid-friendly activities. Kinmundy Log Cabin Village in Kinmundy, Illinois, will open its doors to visitors from April 6th to 8th, and when you’re not staying in one of its 19th-century log cabins, you can take a tour with some busybodies. Volunteers will reenact pioneer life, complete with nightly campfires and food truck sites on April 7th and 8th. The three-day camping and parking fee is $150. Experience life from 1790 to 1900 in New York State at the third-largest living history museum in the United States, Genesee Country Village and Museum, in Mumford, N.Y. From April 5th to 7th, you can participate in a magic show, write a poem with a divine muse, and sample eclipse-themed dishes from the 19th century for $17. On eclipse day, $250 will get you and several of your friends into the viewing area; individual tickets start at $55.

Treat Yourself

Add some ahhs to your ohhs with a Moon Shadow package at La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas, which includes a welcome reception, a bottle of bubbly, and a stargazing party for two for a three-night stay starting at $3,500. Or how about a 15-day journey through the Panama Canal, with the chance to witness an eclipse at sea near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico? Inner cabins on the Emerald Princess, departing from Los Angeles on April 5th, are still available for $1,199. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to roll up in a luxury RV, which becomes a property if the weather turns bad and clear skies are just hours away. Spot2Nite.com offers packages starting at $625 per night, including an RV, from Texas to Ohio campground sites.

Flying high in the dark sky

What’s the best thing about observing an eclipse from an airplane? “You don’t need to worry about the clouds because you are above them. And at an altitude of 35,000 to 40,000 feet, you are seeing the eclipse in a more clear, transparent sky, rather than on ground level,” said Hayden Taramandal, a collaborator and guest lecturer of astronomy, and an avid eclipse chaser Joseph Rao, who witnessed the totality on 13 occasions – all aboard an aircraft. Delta Air Lines is advertising flights from Austin (sold out) and Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit, offering total eclipse experiences. Southwest Airlines (which is racing to win a seat) also provides designated flights along the route. The negative aspect of air-clips? Mr. Rao said, “You’re experiencing this phenomenon in a kind of sterile environment.” Additionally, the angle of the sun in the sky during totality cannot be aligned with a typical airplane window, which can limit the ability of some passengers to see it unless the pilot banks or a specific program is designated – as some allegedly did during the total eclipse of 2017.

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