Lorain County offers the best seats in the house to watch the total solar eclipse, with a variety of events planned in locations where there’s plenty of wide, open space and STEM-filled fun for all ages. Camp out under the stars, watch from the ballfield, gaze through a telescope. Celebrate with food, vendors and activities leading up to the April 8 phenomenon.

Here’s a look at what Lorain County is staging for a once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience.

An Eclipse Home Run 

The Lake Erie Crushers will open their field during Lights Out in the Land for eclipse viewing and stage a day of family fun at the stadium April 8 from noon to 4:30 p.m., with gates opening at 11:30 a.m.

“As everyone says, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so we’re doing something to make it memorable and fun,” says Tom Kramig, the team’s owner.

Along with unobstructed views from the baseball diamond, a packed day of engaging activities allows young guests to complete a Planet Passport with a journey along the solar system with STEAM games and crafts.

Partners including the Lorain County Public Library will host stations including one with color-changing UV beads for creating keychains and jewelry. “When not exposed to the sun’s rays, they have a soft white appearance, and when exposed to UV light, they turn all kinds of bright colors,” explains Amy Breslin, outreach and community engagement librarian.

The library will also offer astronomy themed button-making, oversized games and building materials, and NASA-approved teen activities, Breslin says.

After completing the passport, guests can enter to win a Lights Out in the Land prize pack valued at $500.

Free viewing glasses are provided by North Coast Eye Care, sponsor Channel 19 will be on site broadcasting live, and the video board will be busy with entertainment segments (when live entertainment is not happening), Kramig says.

“This will be a premier watch party event, giving people a chance to experience not only the solar eclipse, but a whole day of entertainment, including the national touring group, Fusion,” Kramig says.

Plenty of parking is available and proximity to I-90 should ease traffic concerns. Kramig says, “We are hoping for a good crowd and good weather.” lakeeriecrushers.com/lights-out-in-the-land

Celebrating the Center of Totality

Avon Lake is embracing its lucky coordinates as the county’s center of totality with an all-in spread of celebrations, transportation and a resource guide that includes sites for RV camping and overnight parking.

Hop on the Solar Express shuttle April 6 and 7 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and loop around town with stops at the doorsteps of local retailers, restaurants and shops. “We want people to leave the driving to us so they can make their way around our business districts,” says Erin Fach, director, Avon Lake Parks and Recreation.

The free ride coincides with Sip & Shop, another festive way to explore the community’s dining, drinks and entertainment scene.

Sunday, April 7 marks the Eclipse Chaser 5k run and 1-mile walk in partnership with Hermes Cleveland, with a starting line at Beach Park Station, Stop 65.

A series of community forums has helped inform residents and shape the city’s events and safety response, Fach says. “It took all of our departments coming together in a team effort,” Fach says of coordination among police, fire, economic development, parks and recreation, the schools, businesses and community organizations.

The headlining event in Avon Lake is its watch party at Avon Lake High School Memorial Stadium on April 8, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. “The idea is to not only watch the solar eclipse but to give people an opportunity to stagger in and out,” Fach says.

The $25 admission includes eclipse glasses, live music by Audiophile and Follow the Sun, food trucks, concessions and local vendors including eclipse merch. A kids play area will feature an obstacle course, crafts and STEM activities. Plus, there’s a designated area for setting up telescopes, as well as talks by local astronomer Suzie Dills.

Prior, Dills will host a free Star Party with her telescope at Walker Road Park on April 6 after sunset, a star-gazing primer for families. She says, “We’ll look at the celestial highlights, and it’s a great event for families to learn more about the eclipse and what will happen on the big day.”

Metroparks Celestial Celebrations

Lorain County Metroparks is hosting an Astronomy Speaker Series that kicked off in January and continues with its final seminar on April 5 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Sandy Ridge Reservation. Members of the Black River Astronomical Society will show the path of the eclipse, explain how to safely view the phenomenon and share photos of what to expect.

The group will have a limited number of telescopes available for viewing at Nielsen Observatory at Carlisle Reservation Equestrian Center in LaGrange. The Metroparks’ eclipse headliner is a watch party at Lorain’s Lakeview Park, which includes activities and information from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including a Solar System Walk display. (Gates open at 8 a.m.) loraincountymetroparks.com/Solar-Eclipse

Solarfest at the Fairgrounds

Tote a pop-up tent and stay the weekend or BYO lawn chair to the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington for Solarfest, April 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and April 8 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 for the weekend with highlights including a D.J. on Sunday, April 7, board games and a Magic: The Gathering tournament sponsored by Wizardry and Warfare. Lorain County 4H is sponsoring youth activities on April 8, and a range of vendors and food trucks will set up shop for the duration. loraincountyfair.com/solarfest

Aviation Watch Party

Reserve ramp space at Lorain County Regional Airport in Elyria for a watch party sponsored by MRK and Discover Aviation. Food and beverages on site plus live entertainment offer a full-service way to celebrate the eclipse after landing in Lorain County. mrkaviation.com | dacfc.org

Eclipse Bash at Common Ground

Oberlin’s Common Ground at the Cindy Nord Center for Renewal will host a party “where the fun never sets” with proceeds benefiting its summer camp scholarship program. The center not only hosts camps, it holds team building programs, and the 30-acre property includes a zipline canopy tour.

On April 8 from 1 to 5 p.m., bring chairs and blankets for an eclipse viewing including eats from Pogie’s Catering and Clubhouse. While you’re there, check out three new adventures: a climbing wall, vertical play pen and giant swing shot. Plan to preregister online. commongroundcenter.org

Eclipse at Black River Landing

Lake and river views, a variety of vendors and proximity to downtown Lorain’s shops and dining spots are a winning trifecta for the Black River Landing eclipse watch party hosted by Lorain Port and Finance Authority. Meanwhile, the nearby Ariel Broadway Hotel has booked reservations for its rooftop celebration. lorainport.com/solareclipse | arielbroadwayhotel.com