The 2017 Great American Eclipse will take place on August 21, turning day into night. The cosmic coincidence occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, creating a perfect alignment of Earth, moon, and star. Although the sun is about 400 times larger than the moon, the moon is about 400 times closer to the Earth than the sun. Thus, the two appear about the same size in the sky, with the moon covering the entire sun (except its atmosphere, the corona).
The path of totality—when the moon completely covers the sun—will pass over parts of Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. It is on this path that viewers can enjoy a total eclipse, with a maximum duration lasting around two minutes. Areas in western Nebraska can expect the eclipse to take place around 11:49 a.m. MST, and areas in eastern Nebraska, northern Missouri, and Kansas will experience the eclipse around 1 p.m. CST.
Hotel rooms in cities that lie along the path of totality are selling out, and have been for the last two months, if not longer.
“I have had people calling for the last two months stating that all the motels were full [and asking if there are] any other options for places to stay,” says Kim Pederson, volunteer and program coordinator for the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce (speaking with Omaha Magazine four months before the eclipse).
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when planning your eclipse trip.
- Make a weekend of it
The eclipse will take place on a Monday, but many activities in locations along the path of totality will take place the weekend leading up to the eclipse. Attend an event, plan a barbecue, or gather family and friends to watch it with you.
- Stay flexible on eclipse day
Unless you are 100 percent certain that the weather on eclipse day will be clear, don’t plan anything that would be hard to undo in case of clouds. Be sure that you are able to drive to a location with little cloud coverage; use the restroom before totality; and be respectful to those around you who are trying to watch the eclipse—no playing of music or talking.
- Get a filter in advance
Cardboard glasses with lenses of optical Mylar are inexpensive and allow you to look directly at the sun. Except during totality, it is not safe to watch the eclipse because of the sun’s intensity. The cardboard glasses filter out most of the light, and all of the dangerous infrared and ultraviolet radiation.
- Don’t photograph the eclipse
Why consider looking down at your camera for the short two minutes that the eclipse will last, when you can take in the eclipse with your own two eyes? You will lose valuable time fiddling with the camera, and no photo will capture what you see. Especially since this event will not happen again until 2024, you don’t want to miss a second of it.
The Black Crow, 405 Court St. This fine-dining restaurant offers guests pizzas, Nebraska steaks, pastas, and an extensive wine list. 402-228-7200.
4 ONE 8, 418 Court St. It may be hard to decide what to eat at this bar and grill, as the menu features salads, entrees, and sandwiches, including an extensive list of burger options. Mac-and-cheese burger, anyone? 402-230-3400.
The Chocolate Bar, 116 W. Third St. This eatery in the heart of downtown Grand Island has cocktails, a bakery with many chocolate desserts, lunches, and dinners. Vegan and gluten free options are available for an extra charge. 308-675-0664.
Sin City Grill, 410 W. Third St. Beginning with two boys, a burger, and a bet, the Sin City Grill specializes in fresh burgers, hand-cut fries, and décor straight out of Las Vegas. 308-398-2237.
Back Alley Bakery, 609 W. Second St. Back Alley Bakery offers a daily lunch menu, a case full of pastries, freshly baked bread each morning, and an artisan pizza night on Thursdays. 402-460-5056.
Odyssey, 521 W. Second St. Offering innovative cuisine that includes udon bowls, bruschetta boards, and garden salads, the Odyssey is open for lunch and dinner. 402-834-3811.
Cunningham’s Journal, 15 W. 23rd St. This pub and grill offers sandwiches and other pub fare with live entertainment in the evenings. It also is home to a large outdoor area. 308-236-9737.
The Flippin Sweet Pizzeria, 203 E. 25th St. This restaurant boasts pizzas named after movies or movie quotes. The owners’ other restaurant, The Flippin Sweet Burger Joint, is at 3905 Second Ave. The Flippin Sweet Pizzeria was named one of the best pizzerias in the Midwest in 2015 by Zagat’s. 308-455-3083.
Canteen Bar & Grille, 2102 S. Jeffers St. Nothing at Canteen is frozen, and everything is made to order. Lunch items range from chicken-fried chicken to a Mediterranean tuna salad wrap. Guests can also enjoy steaks and chops at dinner, and wine-lovers can select from their large wine list. 308-535-6168.
Another Round, 1008 W. 18th St. This sports bar and grill, located on a golf course, offers a selection of sandwiches, burgers, steaks. 308-534-2080.
Paxton (technically just outside the eclipse’s path)
Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge, 123 N. Oak St. Rocky Mountain Oysters and Buffalo Burgers are two of the unique items on the menu of this restaurant, which features more than 200 big game trophies on the walls. With a history as interesting as the taxidermied animals, this spot is perfect to grab a burger and talk to the locals. 308-239-4500.
Mi Ranchito Restaurant, 930 Flack Ave. Classic dishes like enchiladas share the menu with signature items like the Navajo Taco. The recipes have been handed down from generation to generation. 308-629-1500.
Ken & Dale’s Restaurant, 123 E. 3rd St. This restaurant has served steak, chicken, seafood, and sandwiches for 30 years. 308-762-7252.
The Steel Grill, 2800 10th St., Gering. This family-friendly steakhouse features steak nachos piled onto 12-inch pizza pans. The establishment also offers lunch, dinner, and a selection of beers. 308-622-1020.
Emporium Coffeehouse and Cafe, 401 S. Beltline Highway West, Scottsbluff. This restaurant emphasizes Mediterranean food, including (favorites) real pomme frites or veal and gnocci alla Romano. Chefs prepare fresh, delicious, meals ranging from Greek gyros to Mediterranean salads to tender steaks and fish. 308-633-2882.
The Country Cabin, 2534 Kestrel Road. Each day features a different chef special, such as garlic peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin medallions or seafood-stuffed catfish. The rotating menu can be found on their website. 785-742-4320.
Gus’ Restaurant, 606 Oregon St. Guests to Gus’ Restaurant can expect smoked brisket, steak dinners, and fresh fish feeds. Be sure to check the daily special on the restaurant’s Facebook page. 785-742-4533.
Chuck & Hank’s River Shack, 102 E. Atchison St.This restaurant offers a view of the Missouri River, and serves ribs, sandwiches, and wings in the heart of Atchison. 913-367-4837.
Willie’s Sports Pub, 701 Commercial St. Local beers are available in addition to burgers, sandwiches, wings, and entrees. 913-367-2900.
Kansas City, Kansas
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, 3002 W. 47th Ave. Featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and named by Anthony Bourdain on his “list of restaurants to eat at before you die,” this restaurant was born in a gas station, but has expanded to multiple locations across the Kansas City metro. The original, established in 1996 still serves amazing barbecue. 913-722-3366.
Kansas City, Missouri
Boulevard Brewing Co., 2534 Madison Ave. Offering fine beers that can now be found throughout the nation, this brewery was established in 1989. In addition to brews, guests can nosh on a chicken andouille pretzel dog or cheese board while choosing from one of their 24 beers on tap in the 10,000 square foot beer hall. 816-701-7247.
Boudreaux’s Louisiana Seafood & Steak, 224 N. 4th St. The restaurant serves authentic New Orleans cuisine. Although Boudreaux dishes out more than seafood, its specialties include oysters, shrimp, and fried crawfish. 816-387-9911.
Il Lazzarone, 1628 Frederick Ave. Upholding the traditional methods of pizza-making, this family-owned pizzeria specializes in Neapolitan pizza. The restaurant also has a Kansas City location. 816-273-0582.
Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way. Since 1985, Murry’s has brought good food and jazz to Columbia. The restaurant offers oft-unseen items like oyster grinders and chicken poblano to be enjoyed alongside live music. The expansive menu includes appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and a wide selection of sweets. 573-442-4969.
Shakespeare’s Pizza, 3911 Peachtree Dr. This bard of pizzerias includes an extensive list of pies, and a dedication to the craft that is so thorough they slice their own pepperoni to achieve the perfect level of thickness. 573-447-7435.
Prison Brews, 305 Ash St. Located two blocks from the former Missouri State Penitentiary, this microbrewery and restaurant offers quirky dishes like the Prison Reuben and vegetarian-friendly options like a grilled portabella sandwich. Guest can try their hand at bocce on one of the playing courts or relax on the large outdoor patio. 573-635-0678.
Arriś Bistro, 409 W. Miller St. Spanakopita and souvlaki are two of the many southern-European items on this bistro’s extensive lunch and dinner menu. They also feature a “liquid lounge” that offers a wide variety of beers and wine. 573-634-8400.
Whether dining fine or casual on this day, the solar eclipse will be a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be celebrated.
Find more information about the eclipse at: greatamericaneclipse.com
This article appears in the July/August 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.