photo credit: Ig0rZh, Adobe Stock
A total solar eclipse is unlike anything you’ve experienced in your life. Luckily for those of us living in on the U.S. mainland, we have the chance to witness this spectacular display on August 21, 2017, when the path of a total solar eclipse will pass over the continental 48 for the first time since 1979. While the effects of the eclipse will be visible across the entire lower 48 states, to experience the full effect of total eclipse, you’ll have to locate yourself on a narrow strip, the “path of totality”, which stretches from the northern coast of Orgegon to the coast of South Carolina.
It just so happens that next year’s total eclipse passes through some fantastic vacation spots. Our recommendation: kill two birds with one stone and combine your eclipse viewing with some fun in one of these worthy destinations that just happen to fall on the path of totality.
We’ve made your job easy and compiled a list of the seven best vacation destinations within the path of totality. Keep in mind that if getting the best view of the eclipse is your highest priority, you’ll want to consider factors such as the probability of cloud cover and potential humidity levels (for more on eclipse weather conditions, click here).
When: August 21, 2017 (see map above for the exact time the eclipse’s path will cross your area).
Pro tips: Book your travel ahead to one of the seven destinations below. On the day of the eclipse, leave extra time to find your viewing spot. Bring eclipse glasses. For more on the optimum viewing spot and how to prepare for the eclipse, head here.
Approximate time of total eclipse: 1:16 p.m. CDT
St. Louis has much to offer, from some of the best barbecue ribs around to the famous Gateway Arch. The path of total eclipse bisects the city of St. Louis, so for the eclipse itself, your best bet is to head south a few miles. On either end of the eclipse, take a ride to the top of the Arch or enjoy a cruise on the Mississippi in an historic steamboat. When it comes to beer, we prefer the local Urban Chestnut to the gargantuan Budweiser, but a tour of the Budweiser factory has its own perks like taking pictures with the famous Clydesdales and enjoy a sample or two in the tasting room. If you're after unbeatable St. Louis style barbecue ribs, you can't beat downtown St. Louis's Pappy's Smokehouse.
Approximate time of total eclipse: 10:15 a.m. PDT
Newport is a beautiful, quaint coastal town on the coast of Oregon offering outstanding seafood restaurants (we recommend Local Ocean Seafoods) and beautiful beaches. After catching the eclipse, be sure to visit the historic Yaquina Head Litghthouse, which has been lighting up the rocky coast since 1873. Then, dip your toes in the water at the beautiful Beverly Beach State Park, or head to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Be aware that with the wetter coastal climate, clouds are likely and may make obscure your view of the eclipse.
Approximate time of total eclipse: 2:34 p.m. EDT
The Great Smokey Mountains, located along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, are home to Great Smokey Mountain National Park. The park is the U.S.'s most visited national park with over 9 million visitors every year — a distinction that is well deserved. In addition to the many human visitors, the mountains have the densest population of black bears in the eastern U.S., and generally offer one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America. If you're up for an adventure, hike to to the top of Clingman's Dome, a 6,643 ft peak that overs breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Approximate time of total eclipse: 2:46 p.m EST
Often called the most beautiful town in the U.S., Charleston, SC is home to historic colonial buildings dating back to the late 1600s. Visitors to Charleston often describe the sensation of stepping back in time. In addition to its rich history, Charleston offers beautiful beaches, famous golf courses, and distinguished restaurants. Here, in additional to enjoying such a beautiful, culturally rich costal town, you'll be among the last people to catch the August 2017 solar eclipse from the U.S. mainland. As with Newport, be aware that coastal clouds are likely and may make obscure your view of the eclipse.
Approximate time of total eclipse: 1:27 p.m. CDT
Nashville is beloved for its live music scene, and is host to an assortment of outdoor festivals, including the Music City BBQ Festival and the Music City Brewer's Festival, both which take place in Nashville every August. On either end of the eclipse, enjoy a bike ride along the Music City's miles of greenway trails, have a picnic in Riverfront park, or visit the Country Museum Hall of Fame. Balance out the city's hip nightlife with one of the many beautiful hikes within driving distance.
Approximate time of total eclipse: 11:35 a.m. MDT
Located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is a popular destination for mountaineering, hiking, fishing, and more. Home to several lakes including the 15 mile long Jackson lake, the landscape is breathtaking and the ecosystem diverse. The dramatic mountain peaks promise to make for a breathtaking backdrop for the August eclipse, and the Tetons are probably the driest vacation spot on our list (read: most likely to provide a clear view).
Approximate time of total eclipse: 11:35 a.m. MDT
The path of total eclipse will, in fact, narrowly miss the southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. But that doesn't mean you can't plan a weeklong vacation to the iconic national park with a quick side trip south of the park to catch the total eclipse at the Grand Tetons. Yellowstone is home to over 10,000 thermal features, including about 500 geysers. No other national park features such drastically different landscapes, from alpine rivers and lush forests to open prairie and hot springs. Imagine this: wake up in Yellowstone, enjoy the beautiful drive south through the park to the Grand Tetons to catch the solar eclipse, and make it back north to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful erupt as the reemerged sun sets to the west. Dare we call it the perfect day
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