Monday, August 21, 2017, presents people in the United States with an extraordinary chance to see a total solar eclipse. The last time this type of an eclipse was able to be seen across the continental United States was 38 years ago, in 1979. And this is the first total eclipse to sweep across the entire country since 1918. You must be in the path that sweeps from west to east – across 11 states from Oregon to South Carolina – to see the eclipse in totality. If you are outside the roughly 60-mile wide band, you will not get to see the total eclipse.
Most of the communities in the path of the eclipse have been getting ready for the past three years. It is likely that accommodations you’d be seeking are all booked already. But if you are in the fortunate situation of living in or in a reasonable driving distance from the fly over, as it is called, you will surely want to see this natural phenomenon first hand. To maximize your enjoyment of the Great American Eclipse, there are several places across the country that you might consider for eclipse viewing, with totality times indicated:
Lincoln Beach, Oregon
10:16:01 AM (PDT) – Oregon is the first place the eclipse passes. Gather somewhere along the seven miles of sandy beach or one of the beach overlooks, to see it. Beforehand, grab some hot java at Big Mountain Coffee and a doughnut at Depoe Baykery, if the crowds are not too great. Afterward, have lunch at the Surf Rider, C’Est La Vie, or the Side Door Café. Or pack a picnic and make a beach day of it!
11:33:14 AM (MDT) – Rexburg has not seen this much excitement since the Teton Dam Flood of 1976. It is the county seat of Madison County. Consider viewing the eclipse from the Cress Creek Nature Trail. Rexburg is also home to Idaho’s number one wildlife attraction, Yellowstone Bear World; a drive-through wildlife park featuring rocky mountain elk, bison, whitetail deer, rocky mountain goats, moose, American black bear, grizzly bear and gray wolves, all free roaming in natural habitats as your drive through. The Hickory and Big Jud’s are great lunch spots.
11:39:27 AM (MDT) – The year round population of Shoshoni is under 700, but estimates expect the eclipse day numbers to surge in the many thousands. Boysen State Park is a natural wonder and a great place to explore if you can get there in time to reserve a viewing spot. Hot Stuff Pizza has great pizzas.
Grand Island, Nebraska
12:58:34 PM (CDT) – The city has planned for your visit. “With an event as rare and spectacular as this, we’re going to do everything we can to showcase central Nebraska,” says Brad Mellema, Grand Island Convention, and Visitors Bureau director. Eclipse viewing will be held at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, on the south edge of Grand Island and very close to the eclipse centerline. Stuhr Museum offers a lot of wide-open space and lots of parking. While in Grand Island consider a visit to the Crane Trust. Lastly, have a meal at Sin City for burgers and onion rings, or Tommy’s for a great home cooked meal.
St. Joseph, Missouri
1:06:27 PM (CDT) – St. Joseph, the 5th largest city along the path, offers prime watch locations: Rosecrans Memorial Airport, East Hills Shopping Center, and Trails West! Festival at Civic Center Park, Remington Nature Center, and the Heritage Park Softball Complex. Check the city website for details. Dine at the JC Wyatt House for family favorites, or The Cabbage Roll for German fare.
Jefferson City, Missouri
1:13:06 PM (CDT) – Missouri’s capital city welcomes the eclipse just after lunchtime. And they have a three day “Capital Eclipse Celebration” waiting for you. Saturday, August 19 – Downtown Jefferson City Eclipse Street Party 6 – 9 pm; Prison Tours (tickets), visit Jefferson City attractions. Sunday, August 20 – Total Eclipse of the Park Experience at Riverside Park 11-9 pm; Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd Tribute band Interstellar Overdrive, Free concert on the Missouri State Capitol lawn and drum circle. Monday, August 21 – Total Eclipse of the Park Viewing & BBQ at Riverside Park 10 am-2 pm; Preclipse celebration at the Eclipse Village in north Jefferson City, Missouri State Capitol, and Downtown.
1:28:01 PM (CDT) – Lebanon is the county seat of Wilson County. Consider making Cedars of Lebanon State Park or Fiddler’s Grove inside the Wilson County fairgrounds as your viewing destination. Have a meal at Sunset (so aptly named for a total eclipse day!) or Demos.
Anderson, South Carolina
2:37:50 PM (EDT) – On Sunday, attend the “Electric City Lights Out Festival,” 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Federal Street, featuring local products, food, beverage, and entertainment. And hear the T.L. Hanna Band at 7:30 p.m. at Carolina Wren Park. The day off, head for The Recreation Center, 1107 N. Murray Ave., and Carolina Wren Park, 111 E. Whitner St.; both are designated viewing areas. Summa Joe’s or Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill are sure bets for dining.
Georgetown, South Carolina
2:46:34 PM (EDT) is a charming town any time of year and the end point of the Great American Eclipse. Old Bridge Fishing Pier, Harborwalk, and Morgan Park are the prime viewing areas. Before and after enjoying the wonders of this remarkable small coastal town. See the local shops, savor a meal in one of the restaurants such as the River Room, and make a note to come back again for a weekend getaway when it is not the celestial event of the century. While in the area, see Hopsawee Plantation nearby and have a meal at their Tea Room.
Finally, here are a few total eclipse reminders: Never look at the partial phases of the eclipse without proper eye protection. You MUST use special eye protection to look at the sun whenever it is not eclipsed. Take your time. Expect delays. Pack provisions, water, and protein type snacks. Be prepared with some alternatives if you find you cannot get to where you hoped to be. And remember, you can see a partial eclipse on August 21st from anywhere in North America.