From Wapakoneta to Put-in-Bay and beyond, Ohio communities are embracing eclipse tourism for the April 8 event

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Where will you be when darkness falls?

Thousands of eclipse chasers are expected to make their way this spring to Cleveland, which will plunge into total darkness for nearly four minutes on the afternoon of April 8. The city plans numerous special events and parties to view the celestial world’s once-in-a-generation show known as the Great North American Eclipse.

However, the path of the eclipse will cut a wide path through Ohio and several neighboring states. So if you want to use the eclipse as a reason to travel, you won’t have to go far to find an otherworldly experience.

But you’ll have to act fast.

Dozens of communities are planning large events for the eclipse, hoping to benefit economically from an event that won’t appear in Ohio’s skies for another 75 years.

Hotels in the path of totality are already booked or have high prices. A quick check of hotels in the Cleveland area on April 7 and 8 found extremely limited availability and high prices. (Keep in mind that the city will host the NCAA Women’s Final Four this weekend, so downtown will be very busy even without the blackout. The Cleveland Guardians’ home opener is also scheduled for April 8.)

The path of totality—that is, the geographic strip where the moon completely obscures the sun—stretches from Mexico to Canada, covering 13 states, including much of Ohio, traveling northeast from Dayton to Cleveland and beyond.

The path of totality for the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

Looking for ideas on how to best experience this special event? Here are a few:

But remember that traffic will be extremely busy both before and after the eclipse – so plan accordingly.

Wapakoneta, the hometown of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, is going all out for the eclipse. The Armstrong Air and Space Museum will be open for extended hours and host a series of events, including space-themed children’s activities, guided tours, and activities to explore on the museum’s front lawn (see armstrongmuseum.org). Meanwhile, the Auglaize County Fair is hosting the Ring of Fire Fest (“party where the sun don’t shine”), with camping, music, food trucks and more. See auglaizecountyfair.org

Put-in-Bay, which is usually pretty sleepy in early April, is planning a “Monumental Eclipse” viewing party on the lawn of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. Select hotels and restaurants plan to open this weekend as well. Or witness the eclipse from the water aboard the Jet Express. The Port Clinton-based ferry company plans to launch several vessels on the afternoon of April 8. For details: jet-express.com

Elsewhere in the Shores and Islands area: Watch parties and other activities are planned at Kelleys Island, Lakeside Chautauqua, Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Waterworks Park in Port Clinton and the Jackson Street Pier in downtown Sandusky. For information: shoresandislands.com/solar-eclipse

Even Cedar Point plans to open a month early — for just one day — to celebrate the event.

Multiple state parks in Ohio are in the path of totality and will likely be popular places to view the eclipse. Among the options: Maumee Bay, Hueston Woods, Alum Creek, Portage Lakes, Punderson and Wingfoot Lake.

“Each of these parks will be in the path of the total eclipse with a nature visitor center and naturalistic programming to match the astronomical event,” said Andy Chow, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He added: “These seven parks are just the beginning. Ohio State Parks is still compiling a comprehensive list of more parks and the specific programming they will be providing during the eclipse weekend.”

Note: State campgrounds will not accept arrivals on April 8th, so make your reservations (soon!) for April 7th or before.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is also on the way – and expecting a large crowd of eclipse watchers on April 8. “We expect heavy traffic and long waits on local roads this day,” the park’s website said. “Please be patient and courteous while driving. Consider carpooling and try to have enough gas or charge your vehicle if you plan to drive.

Elsewhere in Ohio, activities are planned in Dayton (daytoncvb.com/eclipse), Toledo (utoledo.edu) and many other locations. For a complete list: eclipse.ohio.gov and ohio.org/home/eclipse/eclipse.

Communities outside of Ohio are also making a big deal out of the eclipse.

Both Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario are planning eclipse viewing parties and activities. Indianapolis, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York are all in the path of totality and have many events and activities planned.

Further afield, Travel Texas has put together an eclipse guide (traveltexas.com/things-to-do/outdoor-adventure/great-texas-eclipse)

Meanwhile, Mazatlan, Mexico, will have one of the longest totality periods — 4 minutes and 27 seconds — along with a great shot at clear skies.

Or, if you want to go all out for your eclipse experience, consider booking a cruise along the coast of Mexico.

After selling out the 10-day Mexican Riveria, Princess Cruises recently announced that it is changing the itinerary aboard another ship, the Emerald Princess, to accommodate eclipse chasers. The cruise will sail from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale beginning April 5, catching the eclipse between Cabo San Lucas and Huatulco.

Holland America and other lines also have eclipse cruises planned, but hurry—some are already sold out.

Read more:

2024 solar eclipse could bring tens of thousands of visitors to Cleveland, Northeast Ohio

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