One of the most bewitching and bewildering natural phenomena will occur in Texas this spring: After crossing parts of Mexico, a total solar eclipse will darken a large swath of the Lone Star State before continuing across North America.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, casting a large shadow that either partially (a partial solar eclipse) or totally (a total solar eclipse) blocks sunlight. While partial eclipses occur twice per year, total solar eclipses happen only once about every 18 months. And the last time a total solar eclipse happened in Texas was 627 years ago—way back in 1397—making this upcoming event especially spectacular and rare.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming total solar eclipse in Texas.
When will the total solar eclipse in Texas happen?
Texas’s solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024, roughly between 1:32 p.m. and 1:41 p.m. CST. Some regions will experience more totality (aka darkness) than other areas of the state. The Texas Hill Country is in the most favorable position in the path of the eclipse, and places like Kerrville, Bandera, and Fredericksburg will be getting around four and a half minutes of totality. A few major Texas cities will be able to experience the eclipse as well:
- Austin will get 1 minute and 46 seconds of totality
- Dallas will get 3 minutes and 52 seconds of totality
- Half of San Antonio (basically everything north of Castle Hills) will get 1 minute and 10 seconds of totality
How to see the solar eclipse
NASA recommends watching solar eclipses through eclipse glasses (a special kind of eyewear made from black polymer that’s able to filter out radiation from the sun) or with a handheld solar viewer (a reflective piece of plastic that’s also able to block radiation). The only time it is safe to look directly at the sun is during the exact moment of totality, when the moon is completely blocking sunlight from reaching the Earth. However, as the sun reappears, you’ll need to pop those eclipse glasses back on as soon as possible—even when the moon is partially blocking the sun, sunlight still has the power to damage retinas and cause permanent injury.
It might be a good idea to book a night at a local hotel to avoid dealing with traffic. Be sure to slather on sunscreen and bring plenty of water. The weather won’t be terribly unpleasant in Texas in April (highs average around 80 degrees Fahrenheit during this time of year), but dehydration is still a risk when spending large amounts of time outdoors. Consider wearing long-sleeved, sun-blocking shirts, and long pants—protective clothing can prevent bites from mosquitoes and chiggers, pesky microscopic mites that love to hide in tall grass and cause burning, itchy welts.
What are the best places to see the eclipse in Texas?
Totality: 4 minutes and 24 seconds
Located at the headwaters of the Guadalupe River and surrounded by rolling, cedar-covered hills, Kerrville is a sleepy town especially popular among retirees seeking to spend their golden years in a sunny, beautiful place. Kerrville will be holding an Eclipse Festival to celebrate the celestial event; programming will include live music, children’s entertainment, and talks by scientific speakers. But there’s still plenty to do in Kerrville after the eclipse—hang around and rent a kayak or canoe to explore the Guadalupe, where native Texan birds, fish, and plants abound. And don’t forget about Kerrville’s quirky downtown—sure, there’s the traditional multi-story antique mall, but there are also unexpected shops like the Fairy Moon Emporium, which specialize in selling New Age and eclectic art, period pieces, and, generally speaking, fun knickknacks.
Totality: 4 minutes 23 seconds
Fredericksburg is perhaps the most popular and well-known of the cute-as-a-button small towns that dot the Hill Country. Founded in 1846 by German immigrants, Fredericksburg’s Germanic heritage still runs strong to this day. The town recently launched a website dedicated to providing eclipse chasers with information about the upcoming total solar eclipse—they recommend heading to the Marktplatz (a small park located next to the Vereins Kirche Museum) or the 330-acre Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park to snag prime eclipse-viewing spots.
Get a taste of the town’s historic German roots at the Old German Bakery and Restaurant, which specializes in dishes like schnitzels, potato pancakes, and sausages. Then, get acquainted with Fredericksburg’s trailblazing past at the Pioneer Museum, which features 10 historic structures that have been staged with artifacts and displays documenting the municipality’s history. To end the day on a sweet note, head over to Das Peach Haus for fresh peaches (Fredericksburg is famous for them), peach cider, and peach cobbler served with Bluebell ice cream.
Totality: 4 minutes 8 seconds
About an hour northwest of San Antonio and two hours southeast of Austin, travelers will find the Cowboy Capital of the World, Bandera. The Old West spirit is still going strong in this small town with its main street that looks as if it’s been plucked out of a spaghetti Western, cowboys that set up shop each Saturday downtown, and monthly gunslinger reenactments that take place at the visitor center. Even when there’s not a solar eclipse happening, Bandera is still a popular destination for astro enthusiasts. The town is an ideal place to stargaze, thanks to its famously dark skies, and it’s also a part of the Hill Country Alliance’s Night Sky Program, an organization that advocates for reduced light pollution through educational outreach and changes in government policy.
Hotels: Where to stay in Texas during the solar eclipse
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection
Location: 4100 Red River St., Austin | Find on Google Maps
Book Now: From $425 per night
This 10,800-square-foot Italianate manor is set on 10 acres of carefully manicured garden-like grounds and was initially built in 1928 for cotton businessman and real estate developer “Commodore” Edgar Perry and his wife, Lutie. Now on the register of National Register of Historic Places, the Commodore Perry Estate was thoroughly revamped in 2020 by interior designer Ken Fulk who wanted to preserve the property’s glamorous Roaring Twenties style and old school Texan touches, while modernizing it with contemporary amenities. There are now 42 guest rooms and seven terrace suites at the hotel; some have their own private terraces. The Commodore Perry Estate is located in Austin’s ultra-hipster Hyde Park neighborhood and is just 10 minutes from downtown, making it the Auberge Resorts Collections’ very first urban hotel.
Location: 608 E. Creek St., Fredericksburg | Find on Google Maps
Book Now: From $205 per night
For tastefully appointed and almost unbearably cute accommodations in the Hill Country, look no further than Fredericksburg’s Hoffman Haus. There are 20 rooms and suites on the property, which are spread across a two-story tall main house and a handful of freestanding cottages. Check-in can be completely remote thanks to an electronic keypad and a code that’s sent in advance, but if travelers would like a physical key, they can drop by the main office where an attendant and fresh cookies will be waiting. Breakfast is included in the cost of a stay and delivered in a gingham-covered picnic basket at 9 a.m. Conveniently, the Hoffman Haus is only a 10-minute walk from Fredericksburg’s busy downtown strip, which is populated by over 150 independently owned shops.
The Adolphus, Autograph Collection
Location: 1321 Commerce St., Dallas | Find on Google Maps
Book Now: From $210 per night
The Adolphus is the grand dame of the Dallas hospitality scene—it’s the oldest continually operating hotel in the city. It opened in 1912 and was constructed over the site of the town’s original city hall. The Beaux Arts–style hotel in the heart of downtown is hard to miss—it’s been described as being designed with “explosive extravagance” by the Dallas Morning News. The Adolphus has 407 rooms and is known for its European-style decor and views of the city. Since the Big D will be getting the most totality of any major Texas city, the Adolphus will be an ideal place to post up during the event. Consider watching the eclipse from its luxurious rooftop pool, which is outfitted with private cabanas, a full bar, and a poolside restaurant.