On Monday, April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will swing over North America, showing its light (or lack thereof) over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. While numerous cities and states in North America will be able to experience the full totality of the eclipse, Rochester, New York, and the surrounding Finger Lakes area may be the perfect place to experience April 2024’s total solar eclipse.
Why is this celestial event so special in central New York? Rochester sits directly in the path of totality and will have a full 3 minutes and 38 seconds of complete totality, a full 1 minute longer than the 2017 eclipse!
With special events and programs already in the works, I was able to preview all that Rochester offers during a hosted visit in the way of fun and engaging activities to enjoy once the 3 minutes and 38 seconds of eclipse is over.
Here are the seven reasons why Rochester, New York, is the perfect place to experience April 2024’s total solar eclipse.
The Right Place And The Right Time
Rochester Eclipse Planning Co-Chair Deb Ross said 2017 was the last great American eclipse, but that the path of totality cruised through the middle of the country. The last time a full eclipse occurred in Rochester was in 1925 and the next totality — after 2024 — will not happen again in the area until 2144.
Needless to say, Rochester is making the April eclipse into a big party.
1. The “We” And The “Me” Experiences
Ross said that when considering the experiences of visitors and residents during the event, the planning committee looked at the two different kinds of events that could occur.
“There’s the ‘we’ eclipse and the ‘me’ eclipse, and we are designing opportunities for both types,” she said. “The ‘we’ eclipse is when you’re with thousands of people at an amazing event that’s been designed to give you a particular kind of experience. The ‘me’ eclipse is where you are alone or with the people you love having this profound experience.”
To plan for events, Rochester and Ross brought in eclipse experts in 2019 for 2 days of seminars about how to do the eclipse events right. Ross herself visited other cities that have full totality events in 2027 for best-practice mining and the town is situated to create an unforgettable experience for everyone.
“We are expecting between 375,000 and 500,000 people right here in this little nine-county area [of the Finger Lakes region],” said Rochester Eclipse Planning Co-Chair Dan Schneiderman of the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC).
By far, one of the biggest eclipse events will be held at the RMSC, but the city has multiple celebrations spread across the entire city and region.
2. Get Sciency At RMSC
If you can only do one celebration in Rochester for the eclipse, then don’t miss the 3-day ROC The Eclipse festival at the RMSC. The festival will include hands-on activities for children and adults, speakers, music, food, entertainment, and of course, the big event itself.
“We’re going to keep the tickets dirt cheap,” said Schneiderman. “We’re expecting somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 people over 3 days. We’re working on bringing in big-name speakers, maybe even someone from the British Consulate.”
One unique event during the festival may be the “silent disco” during the adult-night party Saturday at the museum.
“A silent disco is when everyone has headphones on and there’s different music channels and everyone’s dancing in one area,” Schneiderman said. “It’s incredible. It’s a fun thing to see.”
The festival will also have telescopes outside and the museum has already ordered half a million glasses to give out for a safe viewing experience.
3. Escape The Crowds At Smaller Events
According to the eclipse co-chairs, every park in the Rochester area will have events and smaller festivals on the day of the eclipse as well.
“We’ve had some of the other museums, we’ve had homeless shelters, scouts, the entire library system, chocolatiers, restaurants, churches, a mosque, and a temple all doing events,” Schneiderman said. “The main goal for this entire eclipse is that everyone under the sun gets to experience this event safely.”
4. Events At Other Museums
Rochester is home to numerous museums catering to all sorts of interests. The George Eastman Museum, which celebrates George Eastman’s contribution to photography and the creation of Kodak, will host events with pinhole cameras, while the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester is planning an all-day outdoor event.
The Strong Museum of Play — which is one of the largest history museums in the United States and the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play — will mark the 2024 eclipse with a week-long celebration themed around playing with light. Guests will be able to create art on a Lite-Brite-like board, craft a kaleidoscope, make shadow puppets in a shadow-puppet theater, and more. The museum will also showcase a mini display of space-themed toys and games from its extensive collection.
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will also premier a new piece the night before the eclipse and a five-woman comedy troupe will present a live comedy skit at the Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester that weekend.
Traveling Eclipse Art Exhibit: Tyler Nordgren, by acclaimed eclipse artist Tyler Nordgren, will include 30-piece eclipse art creations in the Rochester area for the year preceding the 2024 eclipse.
For a full list of events as they come up, visit the Rochester Eclipse 2024 webpage.
Pro Tip: Rochester wants all residents and visitors to be prepared. Having the proper eyewear is vital to viewing the eclipse. If you need glasses, Rochester has a list of locations on where to acquire them.
Plenty Of Places To Stay And Eat
If you’re planning a trip to Rochester for the April 2024 total eclipse, it might be a good idea to start booking your stay now. Here are a few recommendations.
5. Indulge At Rochester’s Luxury Hotels
The Strathallan Rochester, nicknamed The Strath, is a luxury stay in the heart of Rochester, just a block away from the RMSC. Offering high-end dining, cocktails, and great views of the city, The Strath is also within walking distance to many of the city’s best museums, like the RMSC and the Strong Museum of Play.
The Inn on Broadway is Rochester’s only luxury boutique hotel, located in downtown’s East End theater district. Originally built in 1929 as the University Club of Rochester, the beautifully restored, 25-room property is steeped in the glamor and grandeur of Flower City.
6. Downtown Hotels Are Close To The Action
Home to a major university and convention center, there’s no shortage of hotels in downtown Rochester. They include the transformed Hyatt Regency Rochester; the historic Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, which was originally the home of the National Clothing Company; and the Courtyard Rochester Downtown, which honors the area’s historic past and is only minutes from art galleries, museums, breweries, and festivals.
The Holiday Inn Rochester Downtown is located in the heart of downtown and overlooks the Genesee River.
7. Enjoy The Taste Of Rochester
Not only can you enjoy a giant hearty breakfast, you can do it in a historic renovated boxcar at The Highland Park Diner. Be sure to try their famous Benedicts like the lobster Benedict or the Reuben Benedict.
Crisp Rochester is one of the city’s newest eateries set in the West Edge District. It serves up fresh seasonal food with a southern twist. You don’t want to miss the Crisp chicken and churros — which pairs buttermilk fried chicken breast tenders drizzled in house hot honey with house-made Barcelona-style cinnamon churros.
If meat is what you are craving, go to Rochester local favorite Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, or grab a quick burger at Tr@ta Rochester for a more laid-back, sports-bar vibe that is set up in an old historic armory.
Black Button Distilling’s Tasting Room is great for you gin and whiskey lovers out there. But you can sip on Rochester’s beer history at the Genesee Brew House, which captures the history of the Genesee Brewery, one of the oldest and continuously running breweries in America.