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It’s not too late: Where to see April’s total solar eclipse

The total solar eclipse passing over a swath of North America is less than two months away.

While it may be too late to get a screaming deal on a trip to your top-pick town in the path of totality, it’s certainly not too late to make plans to see the eclipse on April 8.

The path of totality — where the moon will completely block the sun — will be about 115 miles (185 kilometers) wide, making its way west to east across northern Mexico, more than a dozen US states and eastern Canada. The US states in the path are Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Keep in mind that April is unlikely to yield the widespread clear weather that US viewers enjoyed for the 2017 eclipse, which was in August. Many die-hard eclipse chasers are headed to Mexico or Texas for the best odds of clear April skies.

Eclipse considerations

For most of its path over North America, the eclipse will occur in the early- to mid-afternoon.  If you stay just outside the path of totality and drive in on eclipse day, be forewarned: there will be tons of traffic in many places. Go early. And keep in mind that totality lasts longer the closer you are to the path’s center line.

Airbnb tells CNN Travel that searches for dates around April 8 within the path have surged by nearly 300% over the same period in 2023. But there are still rentals available in the path of totality. Airbnb “guest favorite” rooms or entire properties, which earn that status for being highly rated and reliable, were still available on Saturday for April 7-9 bookings in most of the destinations below.

Some hotel rooms in towns with limited lodging and big eclipse plans are going for $500 a night or more, if they’re available at all. But some larger cities in the path still had rooms below that price available as of this week. Note that hotels in some spots have a three-night minimum around the eclipse. Camping is also an option in some heavily booked spots.

The August 2017 total solar eclipse is seen from John Day Fossil Beds National Monument near Mitchell, Oregon. The April 8, 2024, eclipse's path of totality doesn't include any US states west of Texas. - Adrees Latif/Reuters
The August 2017 total solar eclipse is seen from John Day Fossil Beds National Monument near Mitchell, Oregon. The April 8, 2024, eclipse's path of totality doesn't include any US states west of Texas. - Adrees Latif/Reuters

Consider your priorities, advises Dave Clark, who runs the website NationalEclipse.com. Are you determined to go where the weather odds are best for seeing the celestial event? Or do you want to go to the closest decent vantage point from your home that’s inside the path of totality? Or maybe you’d like to visit a city that’s been on your travel wish list, so that even if it’s cloudy on the big day, you still have plenty to see and do?

There’s not a “best” destination, Clark said. “There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all best place.” A viewer’s own priorities must be factored in, he said. Clark is headed to Texas, the US state where the weather odds are most favorable. The odds of good weather drop to the north, but what will actually occur weather-wise on April 8 remains to be seen.

Wherever you go, don’t watch without eclipse glasses that meet ISO safety standards.

Here are a handful of ideas for where to watch inside the path of totality, from Mexico to Canada.

Michael Zeiler/GreatAmericanEclipse.com
Michael Zeiler/GreatAmericanEclipse.com

Torreón, Mexico

The longest duration of totality — nearly four and a half minutes — will occur near the city of Torreón, in the Mexican state of Coahuila.

That’s where Jay Anderson, creator of the website Eclipsophile.com and a retired meteorologist from Canada’s weather service, is planning to travel for the eclipse. “It’s one of the better weather spots,” he told CNN Travel. That’s based on historic April weather conditions. Eclipsophile offers detailed analysis of weather patterns along the entire path of totality here.

“Climatology helps for long-range planning but when the eclipse is imminent, the actual forecast takes over,” Anderson said.

Typically not on tourists’ radar, Torreón’s “guest favorite” Airbnb listings are on the very affordable end of the spectrum, and the city has an international airport. Eclipsophile mentions Cerra de las Noas public overlook, where there’s an observatory owned by Planetarium Torreón, as one possible spot for optimal viewing.

Mazatlán, Mexico

Mazatlán, on the Pacific coast of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, will be the first spot in mainland Mexico to experience totality and offers good odds for clear weather. Mazatlán typically has 67% sunshine in April, according to Eclipsophile.com.

The city dates back to 1531 and has a historic center as well as 10 kilometers (6 miles) of beaches.

Observation points will be set up along the city’s 7-kilometer (4-mile) malecón, or esplanade, according to David Esquivel, president of the Astronomical Society of Mazatlán. Three public viewing spots have been confirmed so far, Esquivel said: El Faro (the lighthouse); the Olas Altas area; and Ciudades Hermanas Park, where a symphonic performance will take place. Astronomers from Mexico and other parts of the world will be on hand at the observation points to offer eclipse information.

Llano, Texas

This small town in Texas Hill Country is expecting 20,000 to 30,000 people for the eclipse, according to Llano Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce. While hotels and B&Bs have been solidly booked for a while, there have been a few openings, a spokesperson said, and there are still camping and RV sites available.

Day passes for Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Texas become available to reserve by phone on March 11 at 8 a.m. CT. - Natalia Silyanov/iStockphoto/Getty Images
Day passes for Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Texas become available to reserve by phone on March 11 at 8 a.m. CT. - Natalia Silyanov/iStockphoto/Getty Images

Overnight reservations have all been snapped up at the nearby Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, but day pass reservations for April 8 open on March 11 at 8 a.m. CT by telephone only: (512) 389-8900. (Other Texas state parks in the path of totality open for day pass reservations on March 8 at 8 a.m. CT).

Dallas, Texas

Dallas offers easy access by air and lots of choices in terms of lodging and events. There’s a lunchtime Solar Eclipse Watch Party in downtown Dallas on eclipse Monday with live music and food trucks. Some ticketed events are already sold out, but the event happening in the sky is open to everyone. Note that Dallas is better positioned in the path of totality than nearby Fort Worth, which is located closer to its western edge.

The city is home to the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, The Dallas World Aquarium, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza and more attractions to fill up a long weekend.

Russellville, Arkansas

This town of about 30,000 has big eclipse plans, including a ticketed festival complete with an Elope at the Eclipse offering. But you don’t have to get hitched to have a good viewing spot. There’s a free Moon Over Main eclipse festival, and all Russellville city parks will serve as free viewing areas. There are campsites and parking spots for rent here.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis is located along the center line of the path of totality for the April 8 total solar eclipse. - Wirestock/iStockphoto/Getty Images
Indianapolis is located along the center line of the path of totality for the April 8 total solar eclipse. - Wirestock/iStockphoto/Getty Images

Located in the center of the path of totality, Indianapolis is billing itself as “the eclipse capital of the Midwest.” Rooms downtown priced below $500 per night were still available on Saturday.

White River State Park is hosting a Lunacy! festival complete with a brass quintet and food trucks. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NASA experts will be on hand to talk about the phenomenon, according to Visit Indy. That event is ticketed, with three-night camping packages available. And Airbnb has “guest favorite” listings.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland boasts vantage points along the shores of Lake Erie, including 147-acre Edgewater Park just west of downtown and Euclid Beach Park east of the city. There’s also a free, outdoor festival hosted by Great Lakes Science Center and NASA’s Glenn Research Center. And in University Circle, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History is hosting a free viewing party on Wade Oval.

Wade Oval in Cleveland will be the site of an eclipse viewing event. - Christopher Roth/iStockphoto/Getty Images
Wade Oval in Cleveland will be the site of an eclipse viewing event. - Christopher Roth/iStockphoto/Getty Images

Hotel rooms and rentals are scarce downtown, but there’s more availability at airport and suburban properties in nearby Independence, North Olmsted, Beachwood and Westlake, according to a spokesperson for Destination Cleveland.

Rochester, New York

Rochester is close to the center line, and it’s putting on a bunch of viewing events. Rochester Museum & Science Center is hosting a ticketed eclipse festival. The city’s last total solar eclipse was nearly 100 years ago on January 25, 1925, according to a Rochester eclipse website.

Visit Rochester said this week that there are still some rooms and hotel packages available in the city. The city’s location on Lake Ontario could reduce cloud cover in certain kinds of weather, Anderson said, although spots in the north don’t have nearly the same odds for clear skies as points south in Texas.

Niagara region, Ontario, Canada

The area around Niagara Falls on the Ontario side is still finalizing some of its eclipse plans, according to Niagara Falls Tourism, but the land that stretches along the falls – Niagara Parks – will host festivities that are free and open to the public. The City of Niagara Falls also expects to announce some public viewing areas soon, and traveler demand is high.

“There are still a few rooms left in the destination, but we are very close to capacity,” said Adam Stiles, a spokesperson for Niagara Falls Tourism. Airbnb still had “guest favorite” listings in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines on Saturday.

Parks near Niagara Falls in Ontario will host public viewing events. - Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images
Parks near Niagara Falls in Ontario will host public viewing events. - Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images

And if you’re intent on seeing the eclipse, you might want to be prepared to shift your plans, Anderson said.

“For those who have and haven’t made plans: keep an eye on the weather forecasts for the two or three days ahead of the eclipse,” he said. “And select a site that looks more promising if you can.”

Some die-hard eclipse chasers have made multiple bookings along the path with plans to decide on their location as close to eclipse time as possible. But pickings clearly are getting slimmer and slimmer, so waiting till the last minute could mean a mad scramble.

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