Chasing the Solar Eclipse: Seattle to Indianapolis

The city is near the center of the totality of the eclipse

Watching a solar eclipse

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

On April 8, the heavens will put on a spectacular show as a total solar eclipse graces the skies, forging a path from Mazatlán to Montreal. For those seeking this unforgettable experience many prime destinations beckon, from the Texas Hill Country to Buffalo. For us, Indianapolis emerged as a prime destination, lying near the center of the eclipse’s path of totality, with a direct flight from Seattle. Indy is embracing the eclipse with an array of captivating viewing spots, whimsical themed events, luxurious accommodation options, noteworthy dining, and of course plenty of places to play that Bonnie Tyler song we all want to hear, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Get insane at “Lunacy,” hosted inside White River State Park. Situated in the center of Indianapolis, White River State Park offers an ideal setting for eclipse viewing. Lunacy, complete with educational exhibits, live entertainment, and prime picnic places, is an easy choice. Bring your favorite beach chair, and a portable bar to settle in for the day. Grab a hoagie from Greiner’s Sub Shop, a banh mi from Rook, and a smoked reuben from Fat Dan’s to guarantee your group will eat well and be happy while watching the solar phenomenon. It’s also easy to get to. Talk a walk on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to avoid eclipse traffic or peddle a bike from the Indiana Pacers’ bikeshare program through the Cultural Trail and park it at a drop off location in White River State Park.

Aerial view of a cityscape with an american flag in the foreground, flanked by classical buildings and a green lawn, with skyscrapers in the background under a partly cloudy sky during a solar

White River State Park

Celebration Plaza at White River State Park

Photo courtesy of White River State Park

Three individuals in matching red t-shirts and sunglasses observing a solar eclipse, looking away from the camera with a cityscape in the background.

Free solar eclipse glasses will be available at the park’s visitor center, courtesy of Indianapolis University

Photo courtesy of White River State Park

For more “pun times” check out Total Eclipse of the Art at Newfields and the Indiana Museum of Art. For art enthusiasts and eclipse chasers alike, this event offers a one-of-a-kind backdrop for experiencing the eclipse in all its splendor. Newfields is a 152-acre refuge that encompasses Lilly House, The Virginia Banks Art & Nature Park, a beer garden, and more. Spend the day “shining bright,” celebrating this celestial spectacular with films, food, and festivities. At exactly 3:08 p.m. (Mother Nature is always on time), bask in totality for three-and-a-half minutes, while toasting with champagne. 

Experience the Total Eclipse of the Art at Newfields and the Indiana Museum of Art

Photo courtesy of Indiana Museum of Art

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Feel the vibrations. The speedway is known for thrilling races and adrenaline-pumping events, but the rare solar eclipse brings out a connection between the technology of fast cars with science and space travel. Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Purdue University team up with NASA to host several special guests: NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, and Mark and Rick Armstrong, the sons of Purdue graduate and first man on the moon Neil Armstrong. A full day of events is planned, along with educational programming, live podcasts, and multiple astronauts. NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers will also be in attendance, and will participate in an autograph session after the sun exits the stage.

Fowling is a Midwestern sensation soon to take over the nation. Make a reservation at Fowling Warehouse and try your skills at football meets bowling, aka fowling! It’s harder than it looks, and very addicting. The game was conceived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but perfected in Detroit, and is a family-friendly but also party-ready affair. A full bar is available, and snacks are on offer, but also feel free to bring your own food. Don’t leave the city without throwing a football at some pins.

The cocktail scene in Indianapolis has created cosmic concoctions worthy of stellar reviews. Sip from these establishments that will serve eclipse-themed cocktails. While the “luna solar” from Bluebeard and the “blockout” from The Block Bistro are visually impressive, the “sailor moon” from The Ball & Biscuit and the “man on the mo’n’on” from Bodhi have eclectic palate teasers. Culinary divas will not be disappointed. St. Elmo Steak House serves up internationally recognized fare along with its coveted spicy shrimp cocktail sauce. Bluebeard focuses on farm-to-table fare, while Spoke & Steele is a chic eatery specializing in innovative American cuisine.

Bluebeard is an award-winning restaurant in downtown Indianapolis

Photo courtesy of Bluebeard

After much astronomy and gastronomy, it’s time for bed. Stay at The Conrad has this tagline: Art Stays Here. The public space on the hotel’s second floor is dedicated to the exhibition of works by local artists who have studios in the state of Indiana. It shares the building with the Long-Sharp Gallery, and features renowned artists such as Warhol and Picasso. Request an Art Ambassador for a guided tour. Tastings Wine Bar and stunningly designed rooms with downtown views round out the luxurious experience. 

Aerial view of a city street during a solar eclipse with illuminated buildings and busy traffic.

Conrad Indianapolis

Photo courtesy of Conrad

Long Sharp Gallery

Photo courtesy of Conrad

To the sun: “Every now and then, I know there’s no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you.” 

To Indianapolis: See you April 8.

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