How You Should Plan Now for the April 2024 Solar Eclipse

The Midwest has a front-row seat to next spring’s total solar eclipse—here’s how to catch it. 

On April 8, 2024, all eyes will be on the sky. A rare total solar eclipse will travel across a ribbon of North America—including several Midwest states.

The last time the U.S. enjoyed an event of this magnitude, 2017, roughly 20 million people watched it. Next spring's event is expected to draw even more eclipse chasers, according to The Great American Eclipse. That means it's time to plan your travel if you aren't lucky enough to live in the path—and you should try to see it, given the region won't witness another total solar eclipse until 2044.

Solar eclipse
KDShutterman/Getty Images

This interstellar marvel occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun at just the right distance. During the event, the moon is close to the Earth; it appears large enough to cover the entire sun. The result: for a few short minutes, day turns to dusk, the temperature plummets, and nocturnal critters may even come out of hiding. Above, the only beacon of light is the sun's atmosphere, known as the corona, which shimmers around the moon's fringes.

For any eclipse, the full moon-overlapping-sun effect is only visible in a narrow band of the world, known as the path of totality. Come April 8, the totality passes from Mexico to Newfoundland and Labrador. It crosses Midwestern states like Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio along the way.

Here's where, when, and how to catch next year's total solar eclipse in the Midwest. (Reminder: Never look directly at the sun with the naked eye. Purchase NASA-approved eclipse glasses—not regular sunglasses—well in advance.)

Where to Watch the Eclipse in the Midwest

Cities and parks throughout the path of totality—including Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky—are going all in on celebrations. Eclipse extravaganzas include:

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Courtesy of Visit Indy


The Hoosier capital will welcome the full eclipse at 3:06 p.m. local time, with a host of fun leading up to those 3 minutes and 51 seconds of totality. Join Indy Eclipse Weekend April 5-8 for films, performances, lectures, and gatherings centered on astronomy and space. Events include a watch party and food truck festival at White River State Park; an Eclipse Extravaganza at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, home to the Beyond Spaceship Earth exhibit; a festival with a mindfulness theme, Total Eclipse of the Art, at Newfields, campus of Indianapolis Museum of Art; and a full day of eclipse programming at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of NASA's three broadcast locations in the U.S.

Other major Indiana cities in the path of totality include Bloomington (eclipse central for Bloomington, home of Indiana University, is here), Evansville and Terre Haute.

Where to stay in Indianapolis: Solid picks for hotels in and around downtown—the hub of the festivities—include Bottleworks Hotel, the Alexander, JW Marriott and Conrad Indianapolis.

Cleveland solar eclipse
NASA Glenn Research Center


At 3:13 p.m. local time, Clevelanders will experience the total eclipse's eerie daytime darkness—but the fun extends well beyond its 3 minutes and 50 seconds of totality. From April 6-8, the Total Eclipse Fest 2024 will fill the city's North Coast Harbor, located by the Great Lakes Science Center downtown, with immersive science, music, and entertainment experiences run in collaboration among the science center, the NASA Glenn Research Center, and The Cleveland Orchestra. NASA will also broadcast live onsite on eclipse day.

Another place to watch, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located roughly 40 minutes south of the city, is one of only a few national parks on totality's path. Its events are forthcoming, but some of the best views include the Beaver Marsh and the Kendall Lake area.

While Cleveland is the largest Ohio destination in the path of the eclipse, several other major Ohio cities also will experience totality, including Dayton (where the city's convention and visitors bureau is planning a variety of events and has announced that the grounds of the free National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will be a primary viewing site), Toledo, Bowling Green, Akron, Lima, Mansfield and Springfield.

Where to stay in Cleveland: Hotels near downtown are ideal for ease of transit. Try the Kimpton Schofield Hotel, Metropolitan at the 9 (which is running an eclipse experience) or The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland.

Perryville Missouri
Perryville Eclipse Event.

Perryville, Missouri

Perryville, Missouri, knows a thing or two about eclipses. This Mississippi River-adjacent getaway was in the path of totality of the 2017 spectacle, and it will enjoy another roughly four minutes of totality come April 8, starting at 1:58 p.m. local time. The city, 80 miles southeast of St. Louis, will host several watch areas: Perryville City Park, the Perryville Regional Airport, Saxony Hills Brewery, and family-owned Hemman Winery.

Where to stay in Perryville: Lodging is limited, but you may be able to find room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. Alternatively, take a road trip via RV to the Perryville RV Resort; cabins are available at the RV resort, too.

The National Quilt Museum
The National Quilt Museum. Paul Nordmann

Paducah, Kentucky

Kentucky's UNESCO Creative City, Paducah, is another destination that's familiar with buzzed-about eclipses. The western Kentucky city was on the 2017 path of totality, and will be there again on April 8, 2024. The artsy escape is hosting community-wide celebrations to help locals and visitors join the fun, including parties, themed fare, and family activities. Its fleeting stretch of totality will hit at 2 p.m. local time, and will last for roughly 90 seconds. For a quintessentially Paducah experience, join the lawn watch party at the city's National Quilt Museum—complete with eclipse-themed quilt-making projects for guests.

Where to stay in Paducah: The 1857 Hotel is a prime boutique option; also, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, the Super 8 by Wyndham Paducah, and La Quinta still have eclipse availability. Call-in reservations are available at the KOA Paducah Campground; phone 270-395-5841 to snag a spot.

Southern Illinois

In southern Illinois, much of the Shawnee National Forest—including the popular Garden of the Gods— lies in the path of total eclipse. The Southern Illinois Crossroads Eclipse Festival in Carbondale will celebrate the event.

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