Witness a rare total solar eclipse from the idyllic vineyards of Texas Hill Country on a journey to the path of totality that will have you exploring fields of wildflowers and native habitats, gazing at the night sky with astronomers, and sampling fine local wines and Texan cuisine.

Due to popular demand, we have three additional options for travelers interested in experiencing the eclipse: Solar Eclipse 2024: Historic San Antonio to the Texas Hill Country, Solar Eclipse 2024: A Journey from Austin to the Texas Hill Country and Solar Eclipse 2024: The Path of Totality in the Texas Hill CountryAvailability is limited on all the tours.

Starting at: $5,395 Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Solar Eclipse
 Solar eclipse
 Austin skyline
 Observatory at the University of Texas Physics Math and Astronomy Building
 Becker Winery. Credit: Becker Winery
 Becker Winery tasting room. Credit: Becker Winery
 Lavender House, Becker Winery. Credit: Becker Winery
 Hill Country landscape of Texas bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and yucca
 Texas longhorn amid the bluebonnets
 The golden-cheeked warbler of Texas
 Texas Hill Country flora
 Traditional Texas barbecue

Solar Eclipse 2024: Astronomy and Nature in the Texas Hill Country

Featuring a Deluxe Retreat

5 days from $5,395

Witness a rare total solar eclipse from the idyllic vineyards of Texas Hill Country on a journey to the path of totality that will have you exploring fields of wildflowers and native habitats, gazing at the night sky with astronomers, and sampling fine local wines and Texan cuisine.

Due to popular demand, we have three additional options for travelers interested in experiencing the eclipse: Solar Eclipse 2024: Historic San Antonio to the Texas Hill Country, Solar Eclipse 2024: A Journey from Austin to the Texas Hill Country and Solar Eclipse 2024: The Path of Totality in the Texas Hill CountryAvailability is limited on all the tours.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will occur over Texas—the first to be seen in North America since 2017.  We invite you to join us in the path of totality to experience this rare celestial event on a five-day sojourn in Texas Hill Country. From your base at a Tuscan villa-style retreat near Austin, delve into the region’s natural bounty and its local culture. Immerse yourself in fields of wildflowers on the famous Bluebonnet Trail, and learn about native flora and fauna at an inspiring Hill Country ranch.  Enjoy a stargazing party with astronomers and learn about the latest research during a visit to the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. Taste the flavors of Texas during a hands-on taco-making workshop and celebratory barbecue, and experience the total eclipse during a wine-tasting lunch in a beautiful vineyard.

Please note: Guests will be divided into groups of no more than 35 travelers.

Highlights Include:

  • Total Solar Eclipse: Witness the eclipse amid the vineyards of a renowned Hill Country winery located in the path of totality. Take an exclusive tasting tour, enjoy panoramic views of Texas Hill Country, then enjoy a private watch party and lunch among the vines as the total eclipse darkens the sky.
  • Wildflowers: Travel Texas’ Bluebonnet Trail in the peak of the season and learn about the importance of native habitat conservation at the Lady Bird Johnson Texas Wildflower Discovery Center in Austin. Surround yourself with bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, and other blooms on a guided tour and catered lunch, and learn about the Center's efforts to conserve native species.
  • Texas Hill Country: Explore the inspiring Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, where a major habitat restoration project transformed barren ranch land into a haven of native flora and fauna. Encounter innovations designed to enhance the ranch’s sustainability, from a manmade bat cave to a rain machine. Spend an afternoon deep in the heart of Hill Country in the tiny town of Luckenbach, inspiration for the eponymous hit country song.
  • Astronomy: Discuss the importance of preserving our nation’s dark skies at a private star party with astronomers.  During an afternoon at the University of Texas at Austin, learn about cutting-edge research on a visit to the Department of Astronomy and join the museum directors for a tour of the paleontology collection at the newly renovated Texas Memorial Museum of Science and Natural History.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival in Austin, TX

Arrive in Austin and transfer to your hotel in the hill country outside the city.  Gather with your fellow Smithsonian travelers for a welcome reception and dinner at the hotel, followed by a lecture by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Then attend an exclusive star party with local astronomers, stargazing beneath the waning crescent moon and enjoying s’mores and Italian hot chocolate around a cozy fire. (R,D)

Day 2 – Flora and Fauna of the Hill Country

This morning, explore Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, a 5,500-acre ranch that is one of the largest habitat restoration projects in Texas. Join Executive Director April Sansom for an up-close look at the native plants and wildlife of Texas Hill Country and the innovative ways that the “worst ranch land in Texas” was restored to a thriving, sustainable ecosystem. Watch a demonstration of the ranch’s rain machine; tour the world’s largest manmade bat cave, which reduces the need for harmful pesticides; and observe a herd of scimitar-horned oryx, a desert species that is extinct in the wild. The Conservation and Research Center of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is working with Bamberger Ranch to reintroduce the species to its native habitats in North Africa.

Continue to the tiny town of Luckenbach (population 3), deep in the heart of Hill Country, for lunch featuring authentic Texas BBQ and live music beneath the shelter of a private dance pavilion surrounded by oak trees.  Then, enjoy time at leisure to explore the charming town of Fredericksburg before returning to your hotel this evening. (L)

Day 3 – Stars of the Lone Star State

Begin the day with a private tour of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Discovery Center, situated in the “bluebonnet belt.” The former first lady helped beautify the region—and the country—by planting miles and miles of wildflowers as part of the 1965 Highway Beautification Act. Stroll among hundreds of native species in gardens and parklands brilliant with spring blooms, and learn about the center’s important work in wildflower conservation. Sit down to a private lunch and a talk by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert in the center’s Great Hall.

Spend the afternoon on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, where you’ll visit the Department of Astronomy—one of the top-ranked astronomy programs in the nation. Learn about the latest research on cosmology and the evolution of galaxies and stars, and, weather permitting, see a projected view of the sun through their solar telescope. Continue to the newly renovated Texas Memorial Museum, dedicated to science and natural history, and join the directors for a hands-on visit to the paleontology collection—and insights into how they reimagined the 84-year-old museum’s exhibitions to adapt to the times. Tonight, get acquainted with a beloved Texas staple during a Texas Taco cooking demonstration with a local chef. Learn the proper way to press masa into tortillas, make your own salsa, and hear the spicy secrets of different chili varieties. Then dig into the delectable feast you’ve prepared.  (L,D)

Day 4 – A Toast to Totality: Eclipse Day

Kick off your day-long celestial celebration at Becker Vineyards, a premier Hill Country winery that was much loved by Lady Bird Johnson.  You’ll have exclusive access to the 300-acre family-owned estate, where the vineyards are complemented by wildflower meadows and fields of lavender—which will begin to bloom in early April. During a private reception in the barrel chai, or wine storeroom, learn how to create lavender products and participate in a hands-on wine-blending experience.  Enjoy lunch and live music on the estate’s expansive lawn. Then don eclipse glasses as the moon begins to obscure the sun, and experience four and a half minutes of eerie darkness during the total eclipse. Afterwards, your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will discuss the eclipse and answer your questions. Return to Austin this evening to toast your astronomical adventure at a celebratory dinner. (L,D,R)

Please note: Visibility of the eclipse depends on weather conditions and cannot be guaranteed.

Day 5 – Depart for Home

Depart the hotel at any time for individual flights home.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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