On the morning of August 21, 2017, I was at the San Diego airport and feeling grateful that my flight was delayed. While I was waiting to board, I pulled out my laptop and watched, in real time, a rare total solar eclipse. If my flight had been on time, I would have had no choice other than to wait for the reruns of this stellar event. That eclipse was very special — the first with a path of totality crossing the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. since the solar eclipse of 1918. I wasn’t the only person who hadn’t planned far enough in advance. My buddy Kevin, a geoscientist at SDSU, jumped in a car with like-minded colleagues at the last minute and made a mad dash to Oregon for the best viewing.
I don’t remember where I was going that day, but I know where I’ll be for the next total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Having never seen an eclipse in person, I started making plans as soon as Kevin alerted me to this event. The path of totality — the time when the moon travels between the sun and the earth and blocks the sunlight — will make landfall in Mazatlán, Mexico, and then move diagonally across North America. NASA says the top viewing spots will be Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Kerrville, Texas. Given these choices, I’m opting for Dallas, which will experience totality for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. That’s 40 seconds less than Kerrville, but when I factored in access to creature comforts, it was an easy decision.
Kevin and his crew ended up sleeping on an Oregon beach, so to avoid a similar fate, I made a recon excursion last month and did a bit of sleuthing. The Hall Arts Hotel in the Dallas Arts District easily won my heart and my April booking. The contemporary, light-filled property, which opened in 2019, boasts a stunning art collection, an impressive rooftop pool, and Napa-inspired Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge. Developers Craig and Kathryn Hall are the proprietors of California’s award-winning Hall Wines and lifelong art collectors.
The Dallas Arts District was formed in the 1970s when the City of Dallas made the decision to move its major arts institutions, which were then scattered across the city, into one neighborhood. Today, the 68-acre area includes performing arts venues, museums, sleek office towers, and urban parks, and is the largest contiguous arts district in the country. I love that contemporary buildings here are interspersed with greenbelts and impressive art installations. Even though I experienced triple-digit heat when I visited, this combo was surprisingly energizing.
In addition to lodging, I checked out the best viewing options. Of course, the eclipse will be visible across the city, but I think it would be fun to watch with like-minded astronomy geeks. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science seemed like a good choice, and my recon revealed that there will be 20-30 astronomers at the museum that day providing play-by-play coverage of the magical experience. Tickets will be available online after January 1.
The 66-acre Dallas Arboretum is also putting together a stellar event with experts coming from around the country, including astrophysicist and science educator Dr. Jeffrey Bennett and Patricia Tribe, former Director of Education at NASA’s Space Center Houston. April 6-8 tickets will be available online December 5. I spent several hours exploring this world-class botanical garden during my trip and plan to return when I’m back in Dallas next April. This will be their peak bloom period for bulbs and azaleas. Both the Arboretum and the Perot Museum will make available the appropriate glasses for viewing the eclipse.
In addition to the big show in April 2024, there will also be an annular solar eclipse AKA “ring of fire” on October 14 of this year. In San Diego, it may be visible between 8:09 and 10:52am, but the best U.S. view spots include Eugene and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
If you also choose Dallas to be your home base for viewing the eclipse, the time to book is now. I’m planning to stay a couple of extra days to further enjoy the Dallas Arts District. (See the Visit Dallas website for the latest info.) Several cruise ships have altered itineraries to include the path of totality, but most of them are already fully booked.
Something to consider: If you miss this one, the next total solar eclipse that will be visible from the contiguous United States will be on August 23, 2044.