From cruises to flights: 4 ways to experience the April total eclipse

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Kirkikis/iStock Editorial/Getty Images
Kirkikis/iStock Editorial/Getty Images

On April 8, 2024, parts of North America will witness the grandest of all celestial shows: a total solar eclipse. NASA models predict the grand spectacle in the sky will begin over the Pacific coast of Mexico at 11:07 a.m. PDT, gradually move northeast across the continent and conclude over Newfoundland, Canada, at 5:16 p.m. NDT.

Total solar eclipses normally occur every few years, but a total solar eclipse passing over such a broad and populated section of the globe is rare — a once-every-few-decades phenomenon.

While large swaths of North America will have partial views, certain locales like Austin, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, will offer the fullest and clearest (weather permitting) vistas of the dazzling duet of sun and moon. And if you’re eagerly anticipating the eclipse, consider booking a cruise, a flight or even a hot balloon ride for unrivaled views of the heavenly extravaganza.

Below, we have rounded up the best places to watch the imminent eclipse and exhilarating ways to see the show from the water and the sky. Plus, we have listed important tips and products for safe eclipse observing.

Watch the eclipse from the water

Niagara Falls. - Nicholas Klein/iStockphoto
Niagara Falls. - Nicholas Klein/iStockphoto

Feel at home by the sea? You have a couple of great options for viewing the April total eclipse from the water.

One option is heading to Niagara Falls, which is right along the path of totality. When you’re there, check out Cave of The Winds, the most untrammeled section of Niagara Falls, or take a tour of the Niagara Falls Observation Tower, a structure straddling the Niagara River with panoramic views.

There are even special eclipse experiences set to be offered in Niagara Falls. For example, this Viator experience includes a tour of Cave of The Winds with a guide, transfers to and from your hotel and a wine tasting. And of course, you’ll stop to see the eclipse, too.

And if you’re visiting from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, you can book a Viator experience that includes transportation to and from Toronto and a tour of Niagara Falls on the day of the eclipse.

Or, book a multi-day cruise elsewhere along the path to bypass crowds you might find at Niagara Falls. Cruises give you unobstructed viewing and ample space, so you can kick back, relax and relish the cosmic majesty sans background noise or distraction.

Feast your eyes on the solar corona and the diamond ring effect over the Sea of Cortes on Uncruise Adventures. The Sea of Cortes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the point where the eclipse begins. Uncruise Adventures cruises last one week, and in the days surrounding April 8, guests will enjoy the untrammeled beaches of Baja California, dazzling snorkeling and fresh Pacific seafood.

See the eclipse from an airplane

Delta is running special eclipse viewing flights. - Ceri Breeze/iStock Editorial/Getty Images
Delta is running special eclipse viewing flights. - Ceri Breeze/iStock Editorial/Getty Images

Delta Air Lines is adding two special flights from Texas to Michigan on April 8, that will let passengers view the eclipse through an airplane window. Delta also notes that the following flights should have good viewing opportunities:

  • DL 5699: Detroit (DTW) to White Planes (HPN), 2:59 p.m. EDT departure.

  • DL 924: Los Angeles (LAX) to Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW), 8:40 a.m. PDT departure.

  • DL 2869: Los Angeles (LAX) to San Antonio (SAT), 9:00 a.m. PDT departure.

  • DL 1001: Salt Lake City (SLC) to San Antonio (SAT), 10:08 a.m. MDT departure.

  • DL 1683: Salt Lake City (SLC) to Austin (AUS), 9:55 a.m. MDT departure.

Watch the eclipse from a hot air balloon

Eclipse mania has taken over Texas like a band of outlaws in a frontier outpost with a weak sheriff. Fredericksburg, a Texas Hill Country hamlet famous for its rollicking Oktoberfest, is hosting an eclipse festival in the days leading up to April 8 at Grapetown Vineyards. The beer, wine and BBQ will flow liberally at the Hill Country solar hootenanny, and for $75, attendees can slip the surly bonds of Earth in a hot balloon to watch the eclipse.

Celebrate the eclipse in Buffalo or Austin

Buffalo, New York, is a great place to view the April total eclipse. - kickstand/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images
Buffalo, New York, is a great place to view the April total eclipse. - kickstand/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images

The eclipse is a terrific excuse to explore a new city. From small burgs on the prairie like Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to bustling hubs like Austin, Rochester or Buffalo, there’s no shortage of interesting places to see the April solar eclipse.

Whether you’re a member of Bills Nation, an architecture buff or a humble seeker of the world’s tastiest chicken wings, there are many compelling reasons to visit Buffalo, New York. Adding to the list, the western New York metropolis is predicted to have some of the best views of the eclipse.

Buffalo is only 45 minutes by car from Niagara Falls, so you can enjoy Buffalo’s deluxe lodging and quickly shoot up to Niagara Falls for a river cruise on April 8. Some hotels that still have availability around the day of the eclipse include the Hilton Garden Inn Buffalo Downtown and the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

Meteorologists predict that Austin will have the happy combination of minimal cloud cover and prolonged eclipse duration on April 8. The quirky capital city of Texas always promises a good time — virtuosic live music, raucous honky tonks and that nonpareil beef brisket — and the festival-friendly city is gearing up for an eclipse shindig of epic proportions.

You can watch the eclipse from Zilker Park (the greensward where Austin City Limits takes place) or from the banks of the Colorado River, but the best party in town will be at El Raval, a restaurant blending Spanish tapas with Southeast Asian flavors from Filipina chef Laila Bazahm. On April 8, El Raval, in conjunction with Nativo Gin, will host an eclipse-viewing party graced with a DJ and Juan & Yoko theme (Spain meets Japan). Eclipse glasses to safely view the show will be provided, too.

Quite a few hotels in Austin still have availability during the eclipse, including the Austin Condo Hotel and the Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown. Alternatively, consider booking a vacation rental with Vrbo.

Make sure to wear eclipse glasses

Wear eclipse glasses to protect your eyes when viewing the total eclipse. - iStock
Wear eclipse glasses to protect your eyes when viewing the total eclipse. - iStock

Amidst all the awe and fun surrounding the eclipse, keep in mind precautions to avoid damaging your eyes. Viewing the eclipse directly can be dangerous, and you should always use solar eclipse glasses with ISO-certified lenses. Resist the temptation to view the eclipse through cameras, telescopes or binoculars.

Here are a few options to consider.

SEIC Plastic Frame Solar Eclipse Glasses, 5-Pack


This set of solar eclipse viewing glasses is worth considering if you want a slightly more stylish look and a set of five glasses for two adults and three kids. Available in black for adults and orange for children, these glasses feature a plastic frame and meet international safety standards set by the ISO.

$39 at Amazon

Nocs Provisions Solar Eclipse Shades


These solar eclipse shades are stylish and include their own fabric carrying base. Available in a burnt orange shade, these Nocs Provisions shades were built to meet ISO international safety standards to protect your eyes from harmful solar rays as you watch the eclipse.

$15 at REI

SEIC Clip-On Frame Solar Eclipse Glasses


If you already wear glasses and want to view the solar eclipse without giving up the benefits of your prescription, consider this pair of clip-on solar eclipse glasses that latch on to your regular eyeglasses. This set of clip-on lenses meets ISO international standards for safety, and it even comes with its own handy carrying case.

$25 at Amazon

With safety in mind, enjoy the show — one of nature’s most awe-inspiring performances.

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