Where to See 2017's Total Solar Eclipse

Calling all sky-watchers and eclipse-chasers for this rare summer spectacle.

By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterFeb. 27, 2017
By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterFeb. 27, 2017, at 2:36 p.m.
U.S. News & World Report

Where to See 2017's Total Solar Eclipse

View all in one page
1 of 8
Solar eclipse.
Credit

(Getty Images)

Stargazers, it's not too late to book a trip to observe the epic event.

So you want to witness the rare cosmic spectacle on Aug. 21. You've purchased your protective glasses. You've researched viewing locations for the two-minute event, when the moon's shadow will block out the sun and a fiery circle will surround it, leaving stars and planets to speckle the sky. But with accommodations filling up across the line of totality – the path where the total eclipse will be clearly visible – you might be wondering if you can still catch the natural phenomenon. And it's bound to be popular: The last time a total solar eclipse passed over the U.S. was in 1979. Well, fret not: There's still time to organize a trip. U.S. News has rounded up top viewing locations for experiencing the astronomical spectacle this summer, vacation ideas included.

Corrected on March 13, 2017: A previous version of this slideshow misstated when the last total solar eclipse passed over the continental U.S.
Charleston, South Carolina, at the historic homes on The Battery.
Credit

(Getty Images)

Charleston, South Carolina

While the total eclipse will pass over 14 states from coast to coast, it's important to keep your plans flexible and visit places you would want to experience anyway, says Teddy Minford, editor at Fodors.com. If you're interested in springing for a once-in-a-lifetime eclipse package, consider Charleston's King Charles Inn, which is offering "a unique viewing experience aboard a schooner with a talk [led] by an astronomer," she says. The three-night package also includes a celebratory glass of Champagne and customized coasters as keepsakes; nightly rates start at $397.
Next:

Stargazers, it's not too late to book a trip to observe the epic event.

So you want to witness the rare cosmic spectacle on Aug. 21. You've purchased your protective glasses. You've researched viewing locations for the two-minute event, when the moon's shadow will block out the sun and a fiery circle will surround it, leaving stars and planets to speckle the sky. But with accommodations filling up across the line of totality – the path where the total eclipse will be clearly visible – you might be wondering if you can still catch the natural phenomenon. And it's bound to be popular: The last time a total solar eclipse passed over the U.S. was in 1979. Well, fret not: There's still time to organize a trip. U.S. News has rounded up top viewing locations for experiencing the astronomical spectacle this summer, vacation ideas included.

Corrected on March 13, 2017: A previous version of this slideshow misstated when the last total solar eclipse passed over the continental U.S.

Charleston, South Carolina

While the total eclipse will pass over 14 states from coast to coast, it's important to keep your plans flexible and visit places you would want to experience anyway, says Teddy Minford, editor at Fodors.com. If you're interested in springing for a once-in-a-lifetime eclipse package, consider Charleston's King Charles Inn, which is offering "a unique viewing experience aboard a schooner with a talk [led] by an astronomer," she says. The three-night package also includes a celebratory glass of Champagne and customized coasters as keepsakes; nightly rates start at $397.

Nashville, Tennessee

As the largest city along the line of totality, Nashville will undoubtedly be swarming with visitors this August. Happily, plenty of rooms are still available, and revelers can pick from a variety of accommodation and activity options tailored to their interests and budgets. Gear up for the spectacle with an astronomy lesson featuring interactive demonstrations, solar photography, music and more at the Adventure Science Center's Sudekum Planetarium. Top eclipse-viewing locations across the city include Cedar Hill Park, Bells Bend and Beaman Park. As for lodging, you'll find a high-low mix of chains and boutique hotels offering enticing promotions, from the Hotel Indigo Nashville to the Westin Nashville.

St. Joseph, Missouri

Across St. Joseph, you can participate in a variety of eclipse-themed events, says Dan McGlaun, a veteran eclipse-chaser and founder of the nonprofit Eclipse2017.org. A standout eclipse-viewing party will be held at the Rosecrans Memorial Airport and is anticipated to lure thousands of spectators, he says. Plus, a variety of meteorologists, solar-observing displays and themed shows are expected across the area. When it comes to lodging, you can choose from campgrounds at nearby state parks, as well as cost-effective bed-and-breakfasts. Just keep in mind that rooms are filling up quickly at popular places like the Radisson Hotel St. Joseph.

Beatrice, Nebraska

"Technically anyone in North America can see the partial phases [of the eclipse]," McGlaun says. But observing a rare total solar eclipse is a spectacular experience that "changes you fundamentally," he says. And though hotels are selling out of rooms quickly and you'll need to be creative about where you watch the event, under-the-radar places like Beatrice are ideal, he says. Beatrice offers festive events throughout the weekend, including movies at the Gage County Fairgrounds, an annual auto and bike show and wine tasting in the Village of Adams, as well as exciting viewing spots like the Homestead National Monument of America. What's more, there are a variety of campsites and economical lodging options in Gage County and nearby Lincoln.

Riverton, Wyoming

If you love the great outdoors and are eager to enjoy wildlife viewing, camping and white-water rafting adventures, Minford advises catching the total eclipse in Riverton. The area happens to be located along the line of totality and is offering a variety of packages catering to outdoorsy types, she adds. Whether you want to camp at a historic place like the 1838 Rendezvous site to take in the event, or you would rather splurge on a unique package with outfitter Bear Basin Adventures to enjoy horseback riding and camping in the Wind River Range, there are plenty of viewing options to pick from.

Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho

One outside-the-box area for eclipse-chasing is Idaho, Minford says. "Stanley, Idaho, is a tiny town at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains," she explains. "Surrounded by granite peaks, glacial lakes and over 350 miles of hiking trails, it's a perfectly rugged getaway for off-the-beaten-path explorers," she adds. As for lodging, Minford points to VRBO, Airbnb and campsites as smart options. For adventurous types, backpacking through Sawtooth National Forest may make for an unforgettable trip. "You can set up a tent wherever you want, as long as it’s 100 feet from [trails, lakes and streams]," she adds.

Salem, Oregon

While you can expect heavy crowds across Salem, given the area's enviable location for eclipse-viewing along the line of totality – and clear visibility – plenty of nearby Willamette Valley hotels are worth checking out to embrace the Pacific Northwest's charms when you're not taking in the eclipse action. Join other revelers at the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, and after catching the phenomenon, retreat to the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon, which currently has availability on Aug. 21. Alternatively, consider reserving a campsite in one of Oregon's state parks via Recreation.gov (managed by the U.S. Forest Service) for a budget-friendly accommodation option.
1 of 8

Liz Weiss, Staff Writer

Liz Weiss is a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report. With more than six years of ...  Read more

Recommended

The 15 Best Charleston Tours

See everything this historic South Carolina city has to offer on one of these guided excursions.

John RodwanJune 19, 2019

The 5 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

See the Garden Island's far-reaching beauty from the air.

Holly JohnsonJune 14, 2019

The 6 Best Las Vegas Helicopter Tours

Get a thrilling look at the lights and sights of Sin City and its surroundings with one of these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation

These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

13 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit

Sip a glass of Virginia's signature viognier as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

June 12, 2019

The 16 Best Seattle Tours

Explore the Emerald City's natural beauty and urban offerings with these guided excursions.

Lyn MettlerJune 12, 2019

The 24 Best London Tours

Whether it's your first time in London or you're a repeat visitor, you'll experience a side of the city you've never seen with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJune 6, 2019

The 21 Best Paris Tours

Enhance your visit to the City of Love with one of these top tours.

Claire LawtonJune 5, 2019

The 20 Best New York City Tours

These guided tours help make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

John RodwanJune 4, 2019

The 24 Best Rome Tours

Enjoy the efficiency of an organized tour led by experts who bring Rome's history to life.

Kyle McCarthyMay 31, 2019