But step outside on a clear night in a truly dark place and you'll be amazed by what you see. Nebulas hang like gossamer smudges against the black of the sky. Satellites cruise quickly across the heavens while meteors streak and explode silently in quick bursts of light. And the stars! So many that on the clearest nights there is more light than dark overhead. If you've never seen your shadow cast by the light of the Milky Way, it's time you start planning your next trip to your nearest dark sky park.
Even if you're not the telescope type, the simple act of setting up a chair some distance from the brightness of the campfire will give you an excellent view similar to that of our ancestors, before light pollution from cities and suburbs washed out the drama of the sky. We've scouted the country and drawn on the experience of our Airstream Ambassadors and our friends at Roadtrippers to create this Stargazing Guide. From some of the darkest skies in the United States to great places to view natural phenomenon like aurora borealis, our Trip Guide to Dark Sky America has a bevy of recommendations for dark skies in your neck of the woods. And if skywatching isn't your thing, for good measure we've thrown in a couple space-themed attractions for you to occupy the daylight hours while you wait for the sun to go down.
Whether you're a stargazing newbie who occasionally glances up while outside at night or a seasoned stargazer who's completed a Messier Marathon, Airstream Supply Company has scouted the United States to find the darkest skies for you. For good measure we've also cast our net wide for great spots to explore space and astronomy during the daylight hours. Read on for more Round Trip recommendations.
There are few experiences as universally inspiring as looking up at the stars on a clear night. It has sparked all kinds of creativity and discovery, from poems and songs to scientific innovations. The night sky may be endangered by low air quality and light pollution, but between Dark Sky Preserves, observatories, and star parties and other gatherings of passionate amateur astronomers, there are still plenty of places to catch a glimpse of the heavens or peer deep into our galaxy. You just have to know where to look to find a good patch of dark sky, since crowded spots are naturally less ideal. For a complete list of our picks for best parks with the darkest skies, click here for our trip guide.
The Adler Planetarium in Chicago represents the gold standard for space-themed attractions one can visit while the sun is up. From exhibits on the basics, like planets and the solar system to artifacts from NASA missions and antique telescopes, you can get a hands-on lesson on the galaxy and our experience exploring it. There are different sky shows as well, and given that this is a planetarium, it's absolutely worth it to make time in your schedule to see at least one.
There's not just one, but three full-size theaters to accommodate everything the institution has to offer. And don't miss out on the sculptures in the garden outside the historic building either; space has just as much impact on art as it does on science.
There's no better deep dive into NASA history than Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. From the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame to the Rocket Garden (an outdoor display of massive historic rockets that launches astronauts and satellites into space), there's all kinds of history to experience here. Their exhibit on the Space Race is especially moving; it shows off the massive scale and heightened emotions of the Apollo era. The Center also offers daily programs that let visitors interact with veteran astronauts.
Plus, Kennedy Space Center is where the launch operations occur, so you will want to take advantage of the Behind the Gates bus tour, which takes you past historic launch sites and working spaceflight facilities. You might even get to witness history in the form of a launch during your visit.
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As Airstream travels the country in search of unique Round Trip destinations, we keep our eye out for dedicated craftspeople who are passionate about manufacturing quality products. Like like the hundreds of production associates who hand-make Airstream travel trailers and touring coaches in our Jackson Center, Ohio manufacturing facility, they are committed to their craft – and to living their dreams. These are their stories.