Our family is getting hyped about planning the perfect total solar eclipse trip coming up this August 2017. Even though this amazing event is five months away, it’s important to make arrangements ahead of time for a popular once in a life time opportunity like this. The 2017 eclipse is said to be the easiest occurrence ever to travel to and witness for those living in the US. I myself have never seen an eclipse before but I have heard how amazing they are. Traveling to see the eclipse is definitely the perfect summer vacation for our family because we love teaching our children about the marvels of the earth by exploring the world. So let’s talk a little about what a total solar eclipse is and how to prepare for one.
People will travel across the country to witness the Total Solar Eclipse in the United States this August 21, 2017. The moon will move in front of the sun to completely block out the Sun for approximately 2-3 minutes. During this short time it will cast a 70-mile Moon-shadow as it travels from Oregon to South Carolina.
So I bet you are wondering what makes this particular eclipse so special… After all a solar eclipse can actually occurs annually or biannually. However, to view an eclipse you have to be in the small visibility line known as the path of totality. The paths of totality are normally hard to venture to and not always in the best locations such as only visible in the desert or off at sea. The paths are very narrow and the partial views can be boring; thus making the witness of a total solar eclipse somewhat rare. If you are in the path of totality this year you can stand anywhere under the 70 mile moon shadow and will get a glimpse of totality. The chance to actually do this is quite rare.
The last visible total solar eclipse in the states was nearly 40 years ago, occurring in 1979 and was only visible to the northwest. On Christmas of 2000 there was a partial eclipse occurrence but nothing can compare to the splendor and marvel of a total solar eclipse. What a miraculous wonder to see the sky turn dark, the temperatures drop and maybe even stars appear during the day!
In order to witness the 2017 eclipse you will need to be in the areas determined as the path of totality on August 21, 2017. One of the websites I have found useful for locating an ideal spot for sighting is www.eclipse2017.org; this site has a great map and information that identifies where you need to be. Some of the best places to view the eclipse on the east coast are the southern parts of The Smokey Mountains, Greenville South Carolina, Columbia South Carolina and Charleston South Carolina. We have chosen Greenville, SC as our destination spot because it is supposed to be a great place to view the eclipse and not terribly far from home. There is also a family friendly event at Roper Mountain Science Center and Planetarium that’s perfect for kids, making this the ideal spot.
When we travel, we like to take our time so we can explore new places without feeling rushed. It’s also good to stop along the way so the kids don’t have to be in the car for long stretches. We will be traveling from Maryland to South Carolina; stopping in Richmond, Virginia, Greensboro, North Carolina, Charlotte North Carolina to our final destination Greenville, South Carolina.
TRAVELING SOUTH BOUND
We have chosen these stops based on the amazing award winning children’s museums and science centers. These are the museums we will be visiting and will be writing exclusive articles for this summer:
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF RICHMOND -Central (Richmond, VA) The Children’s Museum of Richmond and it’s four satellite locations offer a plethora of interactive exhibits and activities known for providing children with the chance to play, learn, and explore in a stimulating, hands-on environment. I’m excited to visit the Central location this summer because of all the different zones to play in for hours of fun.
GREENSBORO CHILDREN’S MUSEUM –(Greensboro, NC) 2017 marks Greensboro Children’s Museums 18-year anniversary. This spring they are set to open phase one of their initiative “Reaching Greater Heights” with a grand opening event in April. The grand opening will reveal the installation of a brand new outdoor play plaza, outdoor classroom and redesigned museum entrance to better accommodate school groups, community groups and families. I can’t wait to explore this museum especially the new outdoor exhibit.
GREENSBORO SCIENCE CENTER – (Greensboro, NC) Despite that this museum is labeled as a science center, it’s so much more than that! All within this one museum they have exhibits featuring fossils, a giant t-rex, aquarium, zoo, planetarium and even an outdoor ropes course called Skywild! Not sure how we will explore all this in one day.
DISCOVERY PLACE – (Charlotte, NC) Discovery Place inspires curious thinkers to discover the wonders of science, technology and nature. This award winning museum is our favorite places to visit in Charlotte. My boys love the KidScience room designed specifically for children under age 5; where you can build a giant tower out of life sized soft blocks, make vibrant pictures on a giant light bright or watch objects zip through a maze on the wind wall. In January 2017 they had a grand re-opening of their planetarium that got an all new digital projector system!
ROPER MOUNTAIN SCIENCE CENTER (Greenville, SC)Roper Mountain is the perfect place to catch this rare celestial event! We chose to spend the day at Roper Mountain in Greenville, SC because it will be in the path of totality for this awe-inspiring eclipse of the Sun on August 21, 2017. Roper Mountain is hosting an Eclipse Extravaganza August 19-21, 2017 which will feature full dome shows in their new T.C. Hooper Planetarium, programs on safe viewing, special observation sites, tours of the observatory and lots of fun activities for the whole family. Tickets Saturday and Sunday are $10 age 4 and up. Monday $15 age 4 and up. Roper Mountain members receive a $5 discount for this special event.
CHILDRENS MUSEUM OF THE UPSTATE (Greenville, NC) – Whatever your age, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is a place of possibility where children and adults alike can explore, discover, imagine, pretend, and be anything!
So why am I writing this article so early? Many people have been planning their trips a year out for this event. This solar eclipse is said to be very popular and many hotels are set to sell out. It’s really import to book sooner than later to reserve a spot at a more reasonable price. Our family has stayed at a variety of different Marriott hotels over the past few years and has been pleased every time. One of the biggest reasons we chose to stay with Marriott is because it always feels like a home away from home. It’s important to stay at a hotel that is affordable but also provides exceptional services. I find it a huge deal that you can earn points to use towards a free nights stay. A lot of Marriott hotels especially Residence Inn have family friendly accommodations such as free continental breakfast, pools and even special events such as ice cream social hours. The three hotels I recommend staying at are:
Greensboro Marriott Downtown
304 North Greene Street
Residence Inn By Marriott Charlotte Uptown
404 S Mint Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Residence Inn By Marriott Greenville
120 Milestone Way
Greenville, SC 29615
TRAVELING NORTH BOUND
COCA-COLA SPACE SCIENCE CENTER– (Columbus, GA) Owned and operated by Columbus State University, the Coca-Cola Space Science Center innovatively combines education and entertainment to promote science exploration and discovery. Along with a host of interactive gallery exhibits, the center is home to the Challenger Learning Center mission simulator, MeadWestvaco Observatory and Omnisphere Planetarium Theater.
STONE MOUNTAIN (Stone Mountain, GA) There is so much to do for audiences of all ages and interests. It is a remarkable place whether you enjoy hiking and admiring nature or having fun and being entertained. You can get in touch with Mother Nature by camping or relax and be pampered at the Resort & Spa. With the ability to tour around Stone Mountain by rail, land, water or sky you are sure to get amazing views of this historical landmark. Link to Stone Mountain Playful Parent Guide
Interactive Neighborhood For Kids – (Gainesville, GA) located a short drive from Atlanta, Georgia we discovered a one of a kind, unique and fun place to explore. The Interactive Neighborhood for Kids (INK) offers the perfect opportunity for children, ages 2 to 12 to immerse themselves in imaginative play. Link to Playful Parent INK Guide
Hilton Garden Columbus
No matter where you view the solar eclipse whether in a prime location or even from a partial view it is important to view the eclipse safely. If you take anything from this article I hope that you pay attention to this part! You will need a few things to prepare for the solar eclipse for safety and protection. It is very important to wear certified solar eye protection.
In searching for solar eye protection I wanted to go with a trusted company. I love that Rainbow Symphony is founded by passionate eclipse chasers, who know all about creating effective and safe eclipse glasses for viewing any solar event. The owners of this company are also scientists and educators who are strong advocates of learning through exploration. This company is great to order from because the products are affordable, easy to use and customizable! My son was super excited to try on all the different glasses styles. From plastic sun glass style to wrap around shades and printed shades to viewers there are options for all budgets and style preferences. I think my sons favorite were the printed sun shades because there were so many different cool designs to choose from.
To purchase solar shades visit: Rainbow Symphony Eclipse Shades Link