Grab Your Goggles
9 Charming (& Kid-Friendly) Towns To Visit For The April 2024 Eclipse

Get thee to the Path of Totality.

by Amber Guetebier

The official arrival of spring has us all itching for a road trip, and whether you've already taken a spring break trip or yours is yet to come, the April 8 total solar eclipse might just be the excuse you need to load up the kids and hit the road. After all, the next event like this won't happen until 2044 — if you want to do this with the kids, this is your chance.

The great news? In North America, the path of totality spans from Texas to Maine (you can view NASA's map of the eclipse path here). That means there are dozens of spots, from big ol' cities to small towns, that might be within a day's drive of your locale. And happily, many of them are hosting eclipse parties to mark the occasion. Yes, I realize it's technically a school day, but since it's going to be 20 years until it happens again, I'm betting some of you will find it worth the day off.

Here are nine places big on charm and eagerly awaiting total darkness.

Photo of Hilton Antaole courtesy Visit Dallas

What to Do: One of the first U.S. destinations to get the full eclipse, Dallas is going big. Among the many events, The Perot Museum of Science and Nature will have astronomers on hand to help viewers witness the event safely. There will be a band and DJ, hands-on STEM action, food trucks, and more. The Dallas Arboretum is also hosting a viewing party with special guest Alvin Drew, a retired NASA astronaut. All weekend (April 5 – 8), downtown Dallas is living it up with an art festival, spring solar stroll, goat yoga, eclipse viewing, and more. The Frontiers of Flight Museum is having family-friendly fun on April 7 and 8, with a live eclipse viewing, Celestron Telescopes, and more. In nearby Mesquite, Texas, the Samuell Farm and Dallas Parks and Recreation are hosting a three-day Totatliy Dallas from April 6 – 8.

Where to Stay: The Rosewood Mansion at Turtle Creek is providing guests with solar eclipse glasses in every room and a special menu celebrating the eclipse. Hilton Anatole is hosting eclipse viewing in the sculpture garden with eclipse glasses and specialty cocktails, or you can opt to view it from the hotel pool and waterpark. And the Ritz-Carlton Dallas is offering a solar eclipse package that includes a viewing area and a Vitamin C facial to reverse sun damage.

Photo courtesy Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau

What to Do: Among the many activities around the event, one of the coolest for kids is the Little Rock Zoo, which has an entire Eclipse Day at the Zoo planned. There's also a free three-day concert series taking place at First Security Amphitheater from April 6 – 8. The Museum of Discovery's pre-eclipse activities include hands-on STEAM learning, where kids can discover all about the solar system and what makes an eclipse happen, plus a big day of celebration. Dozens of places will host viewing parties, including community centers, golf courses, and museums.

Where to Stay: If you want to be in the heart of Little Rock's River Market District, go for the Courtyard by Marriott, which is kid-friendly and has a pool. Or opt for the adorable little one-bedroom Rosemont Cottage B&B Cottages, each with its own balcony.

Photo courtesy Centre for French Colonial Life via Missouri Tourism

What to Do: There are several small towns in the path of totality in Missouri. West Plains is hosting a four-day Party in the Path starting on Friday, April 5, and culminating on April 8. Enjoy mural painting, duck races, a 5k, and all kinds of eclipse-themed activities. Nearby in historic Ste. Genevieve, one of the oldest European settlements west of the Mississippi, there’s a two-day celebration all day Sunday and Monday with live music and food trucks. Check out the historic French Colonial settlement and the Ste. Genevieve Learning Center. Poplar Bluff will have one of the longest periods of totality, lasting over four minutes. Near Poplar Bluff, explore Elephant Rocks State Park and the Mark Twain National Forest, where you can be in the forest during the eclipse!

Where to Stay: West Plains Both the Hampton Inn in West Plains and the Holiday Inn Poplar Bluff have indoor swimming pools.

Photo courtesy Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau

What to Do: About halfway between Louisville and Nashville, Paducah is often overlooked but has been gaining a reputation for its creative arts scene. Since 2013, Paducah has been designated a UNESCO Creative City, primarily for its rising scene preserving and elevating crafts and folk art, design, literature, film, media arts, and music. It’s also in the path of totality! To celebrate, you can attend the X Marks the Spot Total Eclipse Festival on April 7 and 8. Held in the heart of the historic downtown, there will be science demos and workshops, eclipse art activities, yoga and meditation, celestial-themed reading stations, star gazing, a psycho fair, music, food vendors, and more.

Where to Stay: Near downtown, you can stay at the Holiday Inn Paducah Riverfront, which has a pool. For something a little different, rent the historic flat at The Dim Light or try out the 1857 Hotel.

Photo by Eric Morales for

What to Do: There is seemingly no end to the options for experiencing the total solar eclipse in Cleveland, from eclipse-themed murder mystery dinner theater to epic outdoor festivals. Dubbed “the blackout to remember,” you’ll have no shortage of options. Among the top spots for families, visit The Children’s Museum of Cleveland for an entire week of programming leading up to the eclipse and a special celebration the day of, with a party on the front lawn. There’s also The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Solarfest and The Great Lakes Science Center Total Eclipse Fest.

Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Cleveland is offering a Solar Eclipse Package that includes keepsake solar glasses and specialty celestial cocktails. The Crowne Plaza is offering 20% off for a stay during the eclipse.

Photo Chris Temple courtesey Visit Erie

What to Do: Like Cleveland, Erie is going all out for this big solar event. Highlights include Eclipse Day Downtown, which consists of a Children’s Education Fair in partnership with the Erie Children’s Museum that features STEAM activities, astrophysicists, a bookmobile, and more. For really young children who might not leave their eclipse glasses, Gannon University professor Dr. David Horne and Gannon engineering students created a sunscreen window for them to view the eclipse safely. Or head to the Liberty Park-Highmark Amphitheater for a DJ, concessions, and more. Splash Lagoon, a waterpark, is hosting a Splashclipse Party.

Where to Stay: The Holiday Inn Erie will feature eclipse-themed food and drinks at the on-site restaurant, and guests will receive eclipse goodie bags.

Photo by Ed Healy for the Buffalo Zoo, courtesy Visit Buffalo

What to Do: The charming city of Buffalo has a ton of happenings. Among them are the Total Solar Eclipse at the Buffalo Zoo, an eclipse storytime at Alice Ever After Books, multi-day events at the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium, a silent disco, and all-day programming at the children’s museum. Plus, if you’ve always wanted to visit Niagra Falls, consider this your sign to finally go.

Where to Stay: For something unique, stay at the independently-owned Reikart House or go historic and fancy at The Mansion.

Courtesy of Hello Burlington, VT

What to Do: The ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is having a Solar Eclipse Festival the day of the eclipse, which will include an array of sun-safe ways to view the eclipse including sun-oculars, telescope projections, and eclipse glasses. There will be hands-on activities to learn and experience more about the big event. There will also be comedy shows, concerts, and watch parties at a variety of local venues, including breweries and a huge party at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.

Where to Stay: On the eve of the eclipse, The Hotel Vermont will host “All About Eclipses with an Astrophysicist," and then on the day of, a guest-only event will include food, special cocktails, eclipse glasses, and music.

Photo by Danny McGee courtesy of RV Share

What to Do: Houlton is right near the border with Canada, so it's one of the last cities in the U.S. to experience totality. It's also well worth the drive. A charming Victorian town of about 6,000 people, it looks and feels like a Hallmark movie. The lack of light pollution means you'll see stars at night, and during the day, you can witness the total eclipse along the charming streets or in one of the many parks. From April 5 through 8, Maine Eclipse Festival Weekend will feature kids' activities in the park, planetarium events, and more.

Where to Stay: Houlton doesn't have any hotels, so you'll need to book an Airbnb or VRBO instead. Another option is to rent an RV through a company like RV Share and stay at one of the many campsites nearby.