No need for a night light or a favorite stuffed animal for security as the 2024 solar eclipse makes its way across the Midwest. From southern Missouri to northeast Ohio, mark April 8 on your calendar. While states such as Michigan and Ohio haven’t experienced a solar eclipse in more than 200 years, communities from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Cleveland will be in the direct path of totality. With totality (the amount of complete darkness) varying between communities along the path, you’ll want to make plans to maximize the experience.
Here’s a look at some of the best places to watch the solar eclipse, which begins on April 8, 2024, shortly after 12:30 p.m. CT and reaches totality by 4 p.m. CT. Times vary based on location, so ensure you know when totality occurs with your community of choice.
Missouri partial eclipse information
Cape Girardeau, located in the “Boot Region” of southeast Missouri, starts its partial eclipse at 12:41 p.m., reaching totality at 1:58 p.m. With a beautiful riverfront along the Mississippi River, consider watching the eclipse from along the flood wall, decorated with a Missouri Hall of Fame, featuring Mark Twain, George Washington Carver, Josephine Baker, President Harry S. Truman and Betty Grable.
For additional information on Missouri-related solar eclipse locations and attractions, visit here.
Illinois eclipse information
Southern Illinois is the place to be to maximize a solar eclipse experience. With the state experiencing about several minutes of darkness, consider a visit to Carbondale. Home to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale will have a little more than four minutes of totality, about 19 seconds short of the maximum amount of totality in the United States. The best spot to watch the eclipse will be on the SIU campus.
While in Carbondale, explore the Oakland Nature Preserve. With 20 acres, the preserve offers something for everyone – a children’s storybook trail, mile-long woodland trail, as well as the Stan Harris Trail, which crosses through woodlands and prairie.
Indiana eclipse information
With almost 3.5 minutes of totality expected, Indianapolis is a prime spot for experiencing the 2024 solar eclipse. Located almost in the middle of the eclipse path, the state’s capital is perfect for viewing. With partial eclipse running from about 1:50 p.m. ET until 4:23, there will be plenty to enjoy.
With festivals taking place across the city, visitors can participate in events such as watching the eclipse from the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Home to the annual Indianapolis 500 auto race, the raceway and museum will host an “eclipse extravaganza,” including NASA experts who will discuss the significance of the eclipse.
The Children’s Museum will host its own festival, featuring attractions and exhibits focused on helping children understand the eclipse. White River State Park will be a perfect spot to watch the eclipse, with its festival hosting 20-30 food trucks. Nothing says solar eclipse like a taco from a food truck!
Franklin, about 30 minutes south of Indy, will be along the center line of the projected eclipse path. The town’s solar festival will feature live music April 6 and April 8, while other events will take place on the 7th. The visitors center will offer free eclipse viewing glasses and event posters. St. Rose of Lima Church will offer viewing from its parking lot and nearby field. There is a small fee for parking (autos only. No RVs). Free eclipse glasses will be available.
Ohio eclipse information
With Ohio having a 124-mile-wide path, Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center will be the epicenter of local events celebrating the city’s four minutes of totality. Located along the shoreline of Lake Erie, the Science Center’s three-day Total Eclipse Festival begins April 6, and will be spread out along the pier area, offering plenty to see and do.
Along with entertainment and food options, the festival features NASA experts, who will share studies of the sun and provide a ton of fun information to help make the eclipse experience more special. Organizers will offer free eclipse glasses, while supplies last.
The Great Lakes Science Center features a permanent exhibit celebrating the story of NASA and Ohio’s astronauts, led by John Glenn. The museum’s interactive attractions offer children of all ages fun while learning science, including stem cell research and DNA experiments. Consider looking for boat tours offering views from on the lake.
With 2 minutes and 44 seconds of totality, Dayton is another excellent spot in Ohio to view the eclipse. Beginning at 1:38 p.m., the area is expected to experience total darkness about 3:08 p.m. It’s recommended to view from the northwest section of the city.
While in Dayton, visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Open for more than 100 years, the museum features more than 350 aircraft, missiles and other vehicles across 20 acres of indoor galleries, along with an outdoor park. With free admission, the Museum of the United States Air Force is a must when in the Dayton area.
Michigan partial eclipse information
While Michigan isn’t expected to experience totality, the southeastern edge of the state is expected to see a partial eclipse. Cities such as Detroit will experience a slight dimming of the sun. If in the area, head to the riverfront, near the Joe Louis sculpture. Taking in a partial eclipse may not include totality, but it is still a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
However, if you want to celebrate totality, travel an hour south of Detroit to Toledo, Ohio. Here, you can take in the totality experience at the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl football stadium. Hosted by the school’s Ritter Planetarium, viewers can expect almost a minute-a-half of total darkness at about 3:15 p.m.
While it’s not often the Midwest gets to experience a solar eclipse, when we do, we like to party like it’s eclipse time! With a plethora of events planned, from the simple to the extravagant, the 2024 solar eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime event that people of all ages will love to experience. Imagine your children telling their grandchildren about the time they saw the eclipse.
About the author
Tim Trudell is a freelance writer based in Omaha, Nebraska. Besides contributing to Flatwater Free Press, he has also written for outlets such as the Omaha World-Herald, Omaha Magazine, Nebraska Magazine, TravelAwaits, Living Here Midwest and Nebraska Life. Tim and his wife Lisa have written the travel blog thewalkingtourists.com since 2011. An author, Tim and Lisa have written 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die, Unique Eats and Eateries of Omaha, 100 Things to Do in Nebraska Before You Die, and Lost Treasures of Omaha.