The Most Unique Ways to Enjoy the Total Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse arrives in April, and there are heaps of over-the-top, one-of-a-kind celebrations taking place, including flights into the path of totality, spending the day with NASA and wellness retreats.

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It’s the middle of the day. The sky goes dark. The birds stop chirping. The insects go quiet. An eerie silence descends, and it’s not just the usual stillness of being in nature. 

No, this isn’t yet another post-apocalyptic blockbuster. It’s a total solar eclipse, and on April 8, 2024, the United States will experience one tearing a dark line from the Rio Grande through northern Maine and continuing on into the Atlantic Ocean. 

While a total solar eclipse hit a broad stretch of the U.S. in 2017, this isn’t a regular occurrence. Another one won’t arrive in the States until 2044. It’s a rarity, and thousands will travel to take in the magical event in the narrow path of totality, where viewers will find complete darkness at the height of the eclipse. Outside of that tract of darkness, spectators will see only a partial solar eclipse. The closer to the middle of the path of totality you are, the longer the darkness will be. In the center, you might get around four minutes of darkness. Closer to the edges of totality, it could be more like two minutes. Yet, people will travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles, just to experience this brief moment of cosmological wonder. 

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Hotels and campgrounds are getting booked up fast. Many sold out months ago. However, you can do more than simply travel to the path of totality and find the nearest Holiday Inn. Unique events, including citywide celebrations and celebrity-filled parties, will attempt to do the impossible: make a total solar eclipse even more special.

Looking for a particularly exceptional way to mark the event? Here are some of the most distinctive and brag-worthy ways to welcome the total solar eclipse on April 8.

NASA Takes Over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Many events peacock about experts who will be on hand to explain the eclipse and answer questions, but you can’t do much better than NASA for celestial expertise. The organization synonymous with space has selected Indianapolis as one of the three best cities for eclipse viewing in 2024, and it will have a team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a big viewing party. Admission comes with viewing glasses, and there are even camping options available. 

NASA selected Indianapolis because it sits right in the middle of the path of totality, allowing it to experience roughly three minutes and 50 seconds of darkness. Of course, other events are taking place around the city, including kayaking in the White River, a party at the world’s largest children’s museum, a Biergarten celebration with a specially brewed eclipse beer and a Twilight-themed silent disco. The reasoning behind the last of those is rather confusing, but with such an exceptional space event, who says it has to make sense?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indianapolis Motor Speedway

A Sensory Deprivation Dinner

Hotel Vin in Grapevine, Texas, has constructed a unique package that features lunch under the eclipse and sensory deprivation dining experiences. 

Leading up to the main event, hotel guests will find eclipse-themed cocktails. Created by Blackland Distillery in Fort Worth, the limited edition Eclipse Bourbon was made with white corn and black grain, dubbed Midnight Wheat, to evoke the celestial phenomenon. The weekend also includes a black glass wine tasting and a sensory deprivation dinner that will take away senses as the eclipse takes sunlight to create a distinctive dining experience. 

On April 8, the hotel’s WineYard restaurant will host a Lunar Lunch, where guests can enjoy the eclipse with complimentary champagne and viewing glasses.

WineYard Hotel Vin. Hotel Vin

Astro Trails Goes to Torreón, Mexico

Astro Trails has schlepped travelers to solar eclipses and other astronomical wonders since 1979. The company knows how to chase celestial showstoppers in style, and is doing that again this year with a pair of trips that will haul astro-tourists on a short jaunt around San Antonio or a longer journey through Mexico. The Mexican adventure will make Torreón its hub, with side treks to colonial cities and ancient sites around the Yucatan. 

Given Astro Trails' expertise and reputation, its trips sell out quickly. That’s the case here, but Astro Trails is already taking bookings for the 2026 total solar eclipse that will pass through Spain and Greenland.

Astro Trails. Astro Trails

Elope Under the Eclipse

The eclipse will become an inextricable part of personal lore for many couples heading to Russellville, Arkansas, where the small town will host a mass marriage ceremony under the eclipse.

The town’s multi-day Moon Over Main festival will feature live music, food and hot air balloon rides. But the crowning event is an opportunity to tie the knot in the seconds before the eclipse occurs. Couples must register, but the ceremony is shockingly offered for free, as long as couples cover their wedding license. The officiant is provided, as are flowers, wedding cake, a bottle of sparkling fruit juice and a band for that all-important first dance. The group reception begins as soon as the sun returns.

Summer Concert at Depot Park. Main Street Russellville

A Luxury Resort in San Antonio

La Cantera Resort & Spa has assembled a luxurious “Moon Shadow” package for eclipse chasers. The Texas Hill Country resort partnered with the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Department of Physics and Astronomy for a program that centers both luxury and education around stargazing. The package comes with a welcome reception, a bottle of sparkling wine, daily breakfast for two and access to its Total Eclipse Party with themed drinks and food, as well as live music.

During the event, UTSA experts will provide telescopes and a program to introduce kids to stargazing. The resort’s Loma de Vida Spa will add a wellness component with its new Of Earth and Sky Massage. Moreover, a portion of the package, which starts at $3,500 for a three-night stay, will benefit a fund to help students in UTSA’s physics and astronomy department.

La Cantera Resort & Spa. La Cantera Resort & Spa

A Wellness-Focused Eclipse in Maine

Be one of the last to see the 2024 eclipse as it exits the U.S. through northern Maine. Just south of the path of totality sits the very small, very charming town of Kennebunkport, Maine, and the city’s Cape Arundel Inn & Resort and Kennebunkport Inn are hosting a wellness-focused event. The package, which requires a two-night stay, includes a bottle of wine, viewing glasses and a journal for the eclipse-adjacent wellness session. However, it’s important to note that Kennebunkport is not in the path of totality. A partial eclipse will be visible there at 95 percent obscuration instead of the 100 percent at every other event listed here.

The historic inns are situated in the endearing downtown district, offering access to restaurants and shops. A sound healing wellness session will accompany the viewing party, along with free drinks and snacks. While you might find large crowds and a bit of chaos at events like the one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a sense of calm and restoration is central to this more remote experience.

Kennebunkport Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine. Kennebunkport Resort Collection/DouglasMerriam

Rooftop Parties in Dallas

The Sky Blu Rooftop and The Hilton Anatole, both located in the Dallas Design District, are hosting parties that welcome the eclipse in style. The Hilton is offering special packages from April 5 to 8. Viewing glasses and an eclipse-themed dome of chocolate mousse with blueberry compote come with every room. During the actual event, guests can head to the hotel’s resort-style pool complex, JadeWaters, where they can watch the darkness arrive with eclipse-themed cocktails procured from the swim-up bar, or look up while floating in the lazy river.

Sky Blu will serve up panoramic views of the Dallas skyline, along with viewing glasses, drinks and food, including the thematically-appropriate Total Eclipse Cocktail made with Altos Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, agave and activated charcoal. Reservations are made by donating to Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, which supports STEM scholarships.

SkyBlu Rooftop. SkyBlu

Captain Kirk Narrates Celestial Delights

The next best thing to a NASA-led event may be spending time with someone who has explored strange new worlds. Indiana University’s Hoosier Cosmic Celebration brings a multimedia festival to Bloomington, the highlight of which is a spoken word performance on the history of the universe by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. That will take place during the actual eclipse. 

Following the Shatner-guided stellar moment, Janelle Monáe will take the stage. Additionally, groundbreaking astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison will be present, which means someone in attendance will have actually been to space, even if it didn’t involve warp drive. Like the other events here, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Seek out something special for April 8, because a total solar eclipse won’t cut through the United States for another 20 years.

A view of the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse from Madras, Oregon. NASA/Gopalswamy

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