Catch the Solar Eclipse with XOJET
Even if you can’t tell the Big Dipper from the Milky Way, it’s hard to miss the hubbub surrounding the 2017 solar eclipse, which will shoot across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21st. Although the total eclipse will be visible anywhere within the contiguous U.S.—a first since 1918—only sites within a 70-mile-wide “path of totality” will experience full-on twilight during the eclipse.
Ready to embrace the dark side? Fly XOJET to one of these well-positioned locales, where you’ll find easy access to pre-eclipse events, viewing parties, and post-eclipse bashes. (Note: Be sure to protect your eyes by wearing eclipse-certified glasses).
Catch the leading edge of the eclipse in Oregon, where it hits the coast at 10:15 am and will create an early twilight for about two minutes. Newport Municipal Airport (ONP) offers easy access as well as fuel, hangars, and tie-down service; further inland, airports in McMinnville (MMV) and Salem (SLE) provide full-service and are well within the solar eclipse’s 70-mile-wide diagonal.
The region is packed with wineries, including Eyrie, St. Innocent, and R. Stuart & Co., as well as cult-favorites like Beaux Frères and Domaine Serene. Starting Friday, August 18th, Dallas, outside Salem, is hosting a four-day eclipse party with food trucks, live music concerts day and night, a 5K run, and guest speakers. They’ll be celebrating in McMinnville, too: Watch the main event at Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, which is home to Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, then head into town for Main Street’s Eclipse Party.
*Photo courtesy of Michael McCullough.
Fly into Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) for a chance to see the eclipse as it darkens the mountains and rivers within Grand Teton National Park. For the best viewing, head to a pullout along highway 26/89/191, the Inner Park Loop, Gros Ventre Road, or Antelope Flats Road; outdoorsy types might consider taking a morning climb to enjoy the scene from Snow King Mountain, Jackson Peak, Sheep Mountain, Mount Glory, Static Peak, or other Teton mountains.
Or, for the bird’s eye view without the work, book a ticket on one of the ski gondolas that will be scaling the mountains, including Snow King Mountain Gondola and Sweetwater Gondola. Advance ticket purchase required; visit jacksonhole.com and snowkingmountain.com for more information. There’s also a post-eclipse concert on the common at Teton Village just outside Jackson.
*Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson.
The largest city in the path of totality is throwing a community-wide eclipse weekend that even includes a Spotify eclipse playlist. The festivities begin on Saturday, August 19th, with the Music City Eclipse Science & Technology Festival, a three-day extravaganza of fun activities, exhibitors, live science demonstrations, food, music, and more. For the Eclipse Viewing Party on August 21st, the outdoor festival will transform into a large viewing area with a giant screen broadcasting NASA footage of the eclipse from space, live music performances and special speakers, science demonstrations, solar telescope viewing stations, science-themed games, contests, and prizes, food trucks, and a splash pad.
Smaller viewing parties will be held on the grounds of some of the city’s historic homes, including Cheekwood Plantation and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage; the Nashville Symphony will perform at First Tennessee Park before the Nashville Sounds take on the Iowa Cubs in minor league play. Two FBOs are available: BNA at Nashville International Airport and JWN on the west side of town. For more information: visitmusiccity.com.
As one of the most popular eclipse-viewing areas, Nashville will be packed over eclipse weekend. Consider a suburb like Green Hills, which is anchored by the world-famous Bluebird Café and is home to several large hotel chains.
*Photo courtesy of Derrick Brutel.
Columbia, South Carolina
The east coast’s longest dark period—a whopping 2 minutes, 36 seconds—takes place in South Carolina’s capital city, Columbia. Total Eclipse Weekend will comprise more than 50 events including a Columbia Fireflies baseball game, “Total Eclipse of the Park,” during the eclipse at Spirit Communications Park; astronomy activities and exhibits at the new South Carolina State Museum observatory, planetarium, and 4-D theater; a Sunday “Star Wars Musiclipse” matinee of space-themed works by the S.C. Philharmonic at the Koger Center; the Solar 17 eclipse viewing event at Lake Murray Dam; a large-scale public art/laser light installation at the Congaree River, “Southern Lights”; paddling on the lower Saluda River at Saluda Shoals Park’s Total Eclipse on the River event; and eclipse-related tours and programming at Congaree National Park.
Eclipse Ambassadors with the University of South Carolina’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will be operating solar telescopes, leading eclipse-themed games, and facilitating conversation with students and others at ten viewing stations across the campus. Two FBOs—CUB and CAE—make it easy to get in and out of town. For more information: totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.
Since hotel rooms are at a premium in Columbia, consider checking Airbnb or VRBO for home and apartment rentals. Favorite local restaurants, Motor Supply (upscale American) and Terra (Southern-inspired), are both located close to downtown.
*Photo courtesy of Akhenaton06.
*Featured Photos: Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Wolfgang Strickling.
By Katie McElveen
Travel and lifestyle writer Katie McElveen discovered the joy of wandering when, as a teenager, she made a wrong turn in rural South Carolina on the way to a family vacation and ended up taking back roads nearly all the way to the beach. Since then, she hasn’t stopped exploring, although she now travels with a map and more than $3.00 in cash. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Katie has shared her discoveries through her work in magazines such as Real Simple, Business Traveler, Modern Bride, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Town & Country, Southern Living, Spa and Tennis.