A total solar eclipse doesn’t come around very often. This August 21st will be the first one in 99 years to go from coast to coast, bathing 14 states in darkness in the middle of the day.
In preparation, we’ve put together a list of the best eclipse-viewing spots across America. Just pick your favourite, grab your solar glasses, and settle in for this bizarre and beautiful show sent straight from the cosmos.
Lincoln Beach, Oregon
Lincoln Beach is also a beautiful spot to watch the sunset
This rocky stretch of the Oregon coast is the first stop in the eclipse’s path. The shadow will touch land at 10:15am, putting Lincoln Beach in total darkness for nearly two minutes. It’s a good idea to stake out your viewing spot the night before. Try beachside D Sands Condominium Motel, which has balconies looking out over the Pacific.
Always use your safety glasses during a partial eclipse!
After its coastal foray, the eclipse heads east, travelling over the forests of central Oregon, the plains of Idaho, and remote parts of Montana. In Wyoming, the mid-sized city of Riverton is a great viewing spot, getting 2m23s of total darkness at 11:39am. Base yourself at The Holiday Inn-Riverton, so you can see more of nature’s wonders in Boysen State Park after the eclipse.
The Nebraska State Capitol building is located in downtown Lincoln
Skip Omaha and head down south to Lincoln. The Nebraskan capital will experience the total eclipse at 1:02pm for 1m24s. Afterwards, you can check into the AmericInn Lodge & Suites Lincoln South, a cosy spot with free breakfast and a pool. Lincoln’s famous Sunken Gardens and peaceful Antelope Park are just a short drive away.
The college town of Columbia is surrounded by forests and rolling prairies
The eclipse travels east from Nebraska over small sections of Kansas and Iowa, before settling on an epic route across Missouri. Missourians are lucky to be in a prime position – there’ll be total darkness in Kansas City and St. Louis, though you’ll get a better show outside of town. Eclipse-chasers should stay at the Wingate by Wyndham Columbia in Columbia, which gets a whopping 2m36s of total darkness at 1:12pm.
Wheat fields in 'Hopville', the point of greatest eclipse
The further north you are in Kentucky, the better. There are quite a few good viewing spots, but Hopkinsville is one of the best. Total darkness will hit at 1:24pm for 2m40s. The whole metropolitan area will be closed, with celebrations such as the four-day eclipse festival at Jefferson Davis State Historic Site. To take part in the revelry, check in to the comfy La Quinta Inn & Suites Hopkinsville.
Catch a country show on Broadway in downtown Nashville
Nashville’s famous for plenty of things – country music, hot chicken, Johnny Cash – and this August it’s securing its place on the map yet again. There will be a total eclipse in the Music City, especially in the southern suburbs. Catch a gig the night before, then crash at Club Hotel Nashville Inn & Suites. The next day, you can head a bit south of the city for the 1:27pm eclipse.
Murphy, North Carolina
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has epic hiking trails
The eclipse touches the western edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a misty stretch of wilderness in North Carolina. If you can’t make it out to the park, there will be totality in Murphy, a small town on the crossroads of the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers. The darkness will last for 2m26s at 2:34pm, after which you can explore the forests around Hampton Inn Murphy – a favourite for its homemade chocolate chip cookies.
The Clayton County Courthouse looks bright red in the sunshine
As the eclipse passes over Georgia, it will only hit Atlanta with a partial eclipse. To view the total eclipse, you’ll have to head north. A picturesque option is Clayton, a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains that’ll get total darkness for 2m34s at 2:35pm. In such a pretty place, it makes sense to spend the night and explore the hiking paths and waterfalls. Kingwood Country Club and Resort has beautiful grounds and an on-site spa.
Greenwood, South Carolina
Dreher Island State Park is only an hour's drive from Greenwood
South Carolina is the eclipse’s last hurrah over American soil. It’ll hit many larger cities across the state, but Greenwood is probably your best option. The surrounding ‘Lakelands’ have lovely fishing and hiking spots, so you can base yourself at Hampton Inn Greenwood and make a trip of it. The eclipse will last 2m28s from 2:39pm – and then continue out over the Atlantic for 75 more minutes before it disappears entirely.