When the moon passes between the sun and the earth during next year’s solar eclipse, it will block all sunlight from destinations along the so-called “path of totality.” In the United States, this arc-shaped path will make for spectacular eclipse viewing in cities such as San Antonio, Indianapolis and Buffalo.
One city along the path of totality—Cleveland—is hoping to lure travelers by giving away a free trip. The giveaway, which the city’s tourism agency announced earlier this month, includes a free overnight stay for up to four people in downtown Cleveland on April 8, 2024, the day of the eclipse, plus a $50 gift card to a Cleveland restaurant, tickets to two Cleveland attractions and four pairs of eclipse glasses.
To enter to win, travelers must play an interactive game called Roadtrip to CLE, which involves racing through the city’s streets as the moon slowly begins to pass in front of the sun. The goal is to reach the end of the route before the total eclipse.
Players can choose between two race tracks, downtown or Lake Erie, as well as two vehicles: Team Sun or Team Moon. The routes pass by signs for Cleveland tourist attractions, including NASA’s Glenn Research Center and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Each car’s license plate reads “#ThisisCLE.”
“It’s a fun way to showcase our local science institutions and to illustrate the variety of viewing locations along the lakeshore, around the city and in nearby parks and green space,” says Nick Urig, a spokesperson for Destination Cleveland, to Travel + Leisure’s Alison Fox.
Once participants have finished the game, they must post their score on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #SolarEclipseCLE by 11:59 p.m. on May 26. On June 5, winners will be selected randomly—so no need to fret about getting a good score on the racing game.
Not everyone can win the freebies, but Cleveland is still rolling out the red carpet for any and all travelers who want to experience the total eclipse, which in northeast Ohio is scheduled to last for 3 minutes and 49 seconds starting at 3:13 p.m. The city plans to host kid-friendly science workshops and events at the Great Lakes Science Center and the Glenn Research Center.
Cleveland: Mark your calendars—a total solar eclipse is nearly one year away!— NASA's Glenn Research Center (@NASAglenn) April 5, 2023
Join us and @GLScienceCtr for fun STEM activities, science demos + learn facts about the sun and eclipses as we kickoff the countdown April 7-8,
10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Details https://t.co/6twntJKEjs
Of course, travelers have many other options if they want to view the eclipse from within the path of totality, which stretches from Mexico to eastern Canada. At 124 miles wide, the 2024 path of totality will be much wider than the one created during the August 2017 eclipse, which spanned just 71 miles across the U.S., reports Space.com’s Joe Rao.
The duration of the 2024 eclipse is also expected to beat out the 2017 phenomenon: In some places, the moon will block the sun for 4 minutes and 26 seconds, compared to the maximum duration of 2 minutes and 40 seconds in 2017, per Space.com.
Eclipse aficionados may also not have to travel as far as they did in 2017: An estimated 32 million people live within the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse, up from 12 million in 2017, reports Smithsonian magazine’s Dan Falk.
Differences aside, seeing any total solar eclipse is a true bucket list opportunity that experts say everyone should try to experience at least once.
“Nothing can really prepare you for your first total solar eclipse,” as Michael Zeiler, co-developer of the Great American Eclipse website, tells Smithsonian magazine. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s the most beautiful sight you will ever see in the sky.”