Living in a major city like New York, Washington D.C., or Boston has its advantages, but you may not be able to see the stars from where you live. Looking up at the stars brings out the inner adventurer in all of us, plus it feels mystifying and wondrous at the same time. Not to mention, it’s a great activity that can be done safely away from crowds during. Stargazing is an activity that you can combine with a camping or RV trip, or just make it into an evening’s adventure by driving a few hours from your city.
To get the most out of your stargazing experience, you may want to download an app on your smartphone and follow these stargazing tips. And since the East Coast’s fall and winter weather can be unpredictable, make sure to pack plenty of extra warm and waterproof layers in your travel packing cubes, duffel or daypack.
As for where to go, let’s just say the possibilities are written in the stars. Follow the cosmos below at one of these top starbright spots.
1. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Located about four and a half hours from Philadelphia or a five-hour drive from New York City, Cherry Springs State Park is one of the top stargazing spots on the East Coast to spot constellations, meteor showers, and even the Milky Way. (It’s often called “the darkest spot east of the Mississippi!”) Head to the stargazing field with your blankets, or book a private stargazing tour to really up the experience. There are plenty of cabins nearby so you can make a trip out of it.
2. Acadia National Park, Maine
Set off from your Boston apartment and just four and a half hours later, you could be staring up at the night’s sky in Acadia National Park. From there, you can see the Milky Way during the summer months, and on a clear night the rest of the year, plenty of constellations will dazzle you. Head to the Seawall Picnic Area to see the stars out over the sea, or look out from the park’s highest point, Cadillac Mountain.
3. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
The nation’s capital isn’t known for its clear skies, but luckily you just have to drive less than two hours out of D.C. to look up and see a sky full of stars at Shenandoah National Park. Since you can just go for the evening and drive back (or just for one night) pack all the essentials you need—including your red light or regular light flashlight and some binoculars—in your waist bag and hit the road. Since you’ll be visiting the park at night, head to the Big Meadows Area. The high elevation and distance from any urban centers make it possible to see over 2,500 constellations!
4. Bare Dark Sky Observatory, North Carolina
If you’re traveling in your campervan or just want to take a road trip, set your GPS for Bare Dark Sky Observatory in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you can take a turn using the largest public telescope in the Southeast. (Astronomy students from Maryland Community College also study here, so you know it’s going to be a lit experience.) View the planets, moon, and stars through the telescopes. The observatory is closed to the public throughout 2020, but for a really special occasion or cool experience, book a private viewing for $300. (Must be booked in advance.)
Can you see the stars from where you are?
Wayfind Backpack 20L
Migrate Duffle 40L
Stash Waist Bag
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Stargazing Tips for Cozy Starbright Winter Nights
6 Best Places to Be Amazed By the Night Sky
Camping Trip Essentials Packing List