Whether you’re a celestial event aficionado or just like to gather with other people to enjoy drinks and scenic views, you’re in luck: Texas holds the unique distinction of being an ideal spot to watch not one but two solar eclipses over the next six months. The first is an annular eclipse coming on Saturday, Oct. 14, while the second is a total solar eclipse arriving April 8.
Unlike a total solar eclipse, in which the moon completely blocks out the sun, an annular eclipse occurs when the moon partially blocks the sun, creating a “ring of fire” effect in the sky. The latter is what we’re dealing with on Oct. 14. The viewing path, as far as those in the U.S. are concerned, begins in Oregon and ends in Texas, traveling southeast across the state, covering parts of 17 state parks, and offering prime viewing spots in San Antonio, the Hill Country and the Gulf Coast. With some variation depending on where you are, the ring of fire effect will be visible between four and five minutes.
How rare are two back-to-back eclipses in the same place? Pretty damn rare. According to Space.com, the next annular solar eclipse will hit Texas Hill Country in 217 years, and the next total solar eclipse won’t cross until 2617. That’s a long wait, so it’s probably best to get outside for the 2023 and 2024 events.
When viewing the eclipses, all the usual rules apply. Don’t stare directly at the sun; instead, wear solar glasses or use a handheld pin-hole projector. Disclaimer out of the way, these are 10 of the best spots to see the Oct. 14 eclipse.
The entire city of San Antonio falls inside the annular eclipse’s path on Oct. 14, so there’s not a bad seat in the house. But there are better seats. Mokara Hotel & Spa, which is located along the River Walk, is offering a Solar Eclipse Package that includes a night at the hotel, plus special amenities and access to its rooftop viewing event. There will be glasses to protect your eyes, snacks and an eclipse-themed cocktail featuring a large, dark sphere of ice.
The Grand Hyatt is getting in on the action with its Sun and Moon Affair, an eclipse viewing party that’s really leaning into the drama. They invite guests up to the rooftop to “savor mouthwatering Eclipse Sandwiches, sip on Sunrise Mimosas, and marvel at our Solar Eclipse Quiche.” There will also be celestial-themed cocktails — but if you weren’t sold at Solar Eclipse Quiche, then what are we even doing here?
Another option is just down the road at the Hyatt Regency, where the hotel is hosting its own viewing party on the rooftop pool deck from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Your ticket includes a pair of solar glasses. There will also be solar-themed snacks, cocktails and mocktails.
Utopia, Texas, sounds like the ideal place for two solar eclipses to cross, and that’s exactly what’s happening here, as the small town is in the path of totality on Oct. 14 and again on April 8. Naturally, there will be a music festival for both events. Eclipse Utopia takes place Oct. 13-14 at Four Sisters Ranch and will see multiple bands grace two stages over the weekend. The casual, family-friendly event allows free tent camping and parking, is BYOB and offers plenty to do in the area when you’re not listening to bands or safely staring at the eclipse, including nearby hiking, biking and disc golf.
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Whitecap Beach is situated at the northern end of Padre Island National Seashore, and it’s one of the best places in the country to see the eclipse. Given its location, this exact spot will witness an extra-long view of the celestial event (keep in mind we’re still talking single-digit minutes here). So hunker down on the beach, bring some snacks, protect your eyes and look up when the time comes.
This natural cave formation lets you spelunk 180 feet below the surface of the earth. Being underground can be rewarding, but it’s not the best way to see an eclipse. So the attraction is moving things above ground to its adjacent meadows and hosting Total Eclipse at the Park. You can choose from a few different event packages, which range from a reserved picnic table and buffet brunch to simple park access and souvenir glasses.
This luxe retreat is known for its wellness experiences, including yoga, nature walks, horseback riding and cooking classes. On Oct. 14, it’s expanding those experiences to include the eclipse. From the property: “Lean into the potent Libra energy to balance connections inside and out in this unique one time offering to practice slacklining with our Astrologer, Lynn Carroll-Rivera, who will share insights for making the most of this annular solar eclipse.” We bet you didn’t have “astrologist-led slacklining” on your 2023 bingo card.
Stonehenge II is a Texas roadside attraction that was constructed in the early 1990s and is two-thirds the size of the original Stonehenge in England. On Oct. 14, the eclipse will pass right over the site, which should give some fuel to conspiracy theorists but will otherwise be a nice little celebration hosted by the Hill Country Arts Foundations, with food trucks, beer tents and live music.
Garner State Park
Garner State Park is one of the best camping destinations in Texas and also one of the best spots to view fall foliage. On Oct. 14, it becomes a premier spot to see that eclipse because it’s home to Uvalde County Stellar Fest, a three-day festival dedicated to all things eclipse. That includes the Solar Eclipse Village, which features an exhibition space with astronomers, solar researchers, eclipse chasers and other experts, who will host presentations and interactive displays throughout the weekend.
Garner is just one of 17 Texas state parks that fall in the eclipse’s viewing path, which makes it easy for interested parties to get outside, stake a claim and look up. Texas Parks & Wildlife recommends reserving your spot as soon as possible, as park entrance will be limited to those with pre-purchased day passes and camping permits.
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