On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will “wow” spectators across North America, covering a path of totality stretching from central Mexico, up through the central and northeastern parts of the United States, and along the Canadian border to Newfoundland. This rare, natural event will be the first total solar eclipse in North America since 2017. The next one won’t happen until 2033, and it will only be visible in parts of Alaska and Asia.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. In 2024, 13 states will be in the narrow path of totality. Destination marketing organizations in the states lucky enough to be part of the natural phenomenon are already planning for the celestial event, including Destination Cleveland in Ohio.

“Destination Cleveland is working with the Cleveland Metroparks and local science institutions, including the NASA Glenn Research Center and Great Lakes Science Center, to help create unique visitor experiences for the 2024 eclipse,” says Nick Urig, senior manager of public relations at Destination Cleveland. “The eclipse will last just under four minutes in Cleveland, which is one of the longest durations for major cities in the path.”

Plans underway

Student groups planning to view the eclipse in Cleveland can visit Destination Cleveland’s online hub, which contains resources, a countdown clock, information on the path of totality, and an email sign-up for up-to-date information. The hub will expand to include details for local celebrations and viewing events once information becomes available. The city’s science institutions, including NASA Glenn Research Center and Great Lakes Science Center, are developing special programming and watch events. The science center’s location on Lake Erie will provide incredible lakefront views during its planned watch party.

total solar eclipse
Mission to STEM, Great Lakes Science Center
Credit: Great Lakes Science Center

“With unobstructed views over Lake Erie or in the acres of green space throughout the area, the region is full of fantastic vantage points,” Urig says. “The Cleveland Metropark’s Lakefront Reservation runs along the city’s north coast and connects guests to lakefront beaches, trails, marinas, and large green spaces to view from the shore.”

Itinerary must-sees

For a space-focused tour in Cleveland, students can plan an extended visit to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center at Great Lakes Science Center, which explores the past, present,
and future of human space exploration. Youth experiences include a look inside the actual 1973 Skylab 3 Apollo Command Module, a multimedia trip through landmark moments in space history, viewing artifacts from John Glenn’s 1962 Friendship 7 mission, and seeing a real moon rock.

Mission to STEM, Great Lakes Science Center
Credit: Great Lakes Science Center

Groups can also embark on a Mission to STEM through the NASA Glenn Visitor Center app,” Urig says. “Partnering with an animated digital companion, users search for mission patches that unlock the secrets of aerospace technology through guided activities. Guests can explore the interior of the museum’s Skylab 3 Apollo Command Module through immersive, 360-degree panoramas, experiment with fire on board the International Space Station, and more.”

Other student itinerary musts include the world’s only Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the iconic A Christmas Story House, and the more than 100-year-old West Side Market.

“Groups can enjoy the most concentrated square mile of arts and culture institutions in the nation, one of the country’s only free art museums, and a performance by one of the top five orchestras in the world,” Urig adds.

Solar Eclipse Safety

Anyone planning to view a total solar eclipse should purchase a pair of solar viewing glasses. By using these extra-protective shades, observers can safely look directly at the sun before and after totality.

total solar eclipse
NASA Glenn Research Center
Credit: NASA Glenn Research Center

Several companies sell eclipse glasses that meet the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA, the American Astronomical Society, and other scientific organizations. These companies include Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, Lunt Solar Systems, and TSE 17. Regular sunglasses cannot be used in place of solar viewing glasses.

Main image: Cleveland; credit: Destination Cleveland

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Courtney Birchmeier oversees the editorial department at Group Tour Media. With half a decade under her belt in the group travel industry, she's eager to connect tour operators and group leaders with new destinations. It's a great day at the office if her dog, a chow/lab mix named "Kiwi," is in tow. In her free time, she enjoys reading (for fun, with no red pen in hand), sampling craft beer (New Holland Brewing's "Dragon's Milk," anyone?) and adding new destinations to her travel bucket list (like Salzburg, Austria).