Your next vacation might be written in the stars after discovering destinations where dark skies shimmer, with or without a telescope. These five destinations make for glowing nights spent under the stars.
1. Mauna Kea in Hawaii
Head to the highest volcano in Hawaii and go stargazing atop the 13,796-foot summit of Mauna Kea. This is also where the world’s largest optical telescope resides, which calls for more fun. Mauna Kea is also home to the world’s greatest collection of astronomy equipment and one of the best spots on Earth to go stargazing. The peak closes to tourists at nightfall, but there is a visitor’s center at a comforting 9,200 feet that stays open until 10 p.m., where there are free lectures and a chance for sky lovers to look through 11-, 14-, and 16-inch telescopes.
Great Hotels near Mauna Kea:
- Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel – The comfortable, laid-back feel of the Big Island is captured right here. The essence of its sacred beauty, revealed. The most well-regarded Big Island vacation rental in Hilo, Hawaii. With a location that couldn’t be more perfect for island exploration and personal reflection, recreation and relaxation are at hand. Hilo Hawaiian Hotel sits quietly on Hilo Bay, watched over by Mauna Kea’s peak and guarded by Kilauea’s sheer majesty.
- Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa – Located along 15 acres of the sun-splashed Kohala Coast, this luxurious resort offers all the best Hawaii’s Big Island has to offer. This renovated hotel offers warmth, comfort, and breathtaking style, unmatched by any other resort in the area. Head out for shopping, or test your swing on the 36-hole golf course. The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is the perfect home base for exploring all the best attractions of the Big Island, including Waikoloa Kings’ and Queens’ Marketplace, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Kea Observatories, City of Refuge, and more.
2. Igloos in Finland
Go off the grid on The Northern Lights of Finland guided tour from Collette where you’ll spend the night in a glass igloo in the middle of the Lappish wilderness surrounded by green and bouncing blue hues. Every night of the tour, set out to immerse yourself in Helsinki and its cultural traditions, then during the day, enjoy a dog sled tour. This tour is a different type of stargazing, but still a unique and breathtaking experience when it comes to cosmic and astronomical wonders in the world.
Great Hotels in Finland:
- Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle – The new glass-roofed igloos offer a whole new and interesting opportunity for experiencing Lapland’s ever-changing nature while enjoying the comforts of a hotel room. Welcome to enjoy magical northern lights, spectacular midnight sun, plentiful autumn colors and frosty and beautiful winter polar night in our glass igloos!
- Harriniva Hotels & Safaris – Our greatest pleasure is to introduce you to the unique nature and fascinating phenomenon in Lapland. We love to offer once in a lifetime experiences to our guests with over 40 years experience ‘Best in Wilderness since 1973’. In winter time you can stay at the Torassieppi Winter Village snow igloos or amazing Aurora Domes,
3. The Dark Skies of Tucson
Take a trip through space and time in the astronomy capital of the world atop mountains in Tucson, Arizona. Telescopes top the mountains, taking advantage of Tucson’s clean air and clear, dark skies and almost 350 nights out of the year you can use them to see the darkest skies with the shiniest stars. This is where the pros go and Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter allows travelers to go off the grid and see the universe and space in a way some people never get the chance to.
Great Hotels in Tucson:
- Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa – Situated in the warm shade of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Miraval Arizona is more than a destination. It is a place where nurturing specialists curate imaginative experiences to ignite your inner spark and help you create balance in your life. All packages include luxurious accommodations, gourmet meals, unlimited smoothie bar and freshly prepared snacks throughout the day. Over 120 complimentary wellness activities, lectures and fitness classes weekly. Enjoy three pools and 24-hour access to our newly renovated Body Mindfulness Fitness Center.
- El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort – Feel the stress melt away under the Arizona sun at El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort. Spend the day on the golf course, poolside or at the spa. Lush desert terrain, tropical drinks and southwestern décor welcome your arrival to the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. With suites offering private patios and balconies, a stunning view is never far.
4. A Stargazing Festival in Canada
Take the path less traveled to the Dark Sky Festival in Alberta’s Jasper National Park, the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world. You’ll go through spruce and snow-covered pine forests throughout the Canadian Rockies and feel like you’re in a galaxy far away. This festival occurs every fall and aims to connect all ages to our universe and beyond with fun rocket launches, photography and telescope workshops, as well as a symphony under the stars. Additionally, there are space and science trivia challenges and space talks to attend. Go stargazing along the shores of Lake Annette or attend a VIP stargazing reception where you can actually meet the stars (the keynote speakers) of the Dark Sky Festival.
Great Hotels in Jasper National Park:
- Jasper Inn – Hospitality, comfort and four-season recreation for gatherings of all kinds in the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Jasper Inn is your perfect choice among Jasper hotels because of its warm hospitality, a variety of accommodations including pet-friendly rooms and tasteful amenities. We are known as one of the most welcoming hotels in Jasper, AB with friendly, knowledgeable staff, on-site dining, meeting room space, an indoor pool, and free hotel parking.
5. In the Atacama Desert, Chile
Nowhere on Earth is better for stargazing than Chile’s Atacama desert, where super-observatories have opened up to a wave of astro-tourists seeking unpolluted skies. Dark sky reserves have sprouted up everywhere from Northumberland to Namibia. But for the ultimate stargazing experience, the Atacama desert in northern Chile has the clearest night skies on Earth. It is high, dry (one of the driest places in the world) and unpolluted. Several top-level observatories have set up home here, and tourists are hot on their tail.
Great Hotels in Chile’s Atacama desert:
- Tierra Atacama – Escape to a world of clear night skies, high altitude lagoons and moon-like valleys at Tierra Atacama. High in the northern desert of Chile, our boutique Atacama lodge encapsulates exquisite design, authentic experiences and an intimate, home-away-from-home atmosphere, where a sense of both adventure travel and pure relaxation lingers in the air.