There’s one good thing about the end of daylight saving time: more hours to enjoy the deep blue sky. Oftentimes — especially in urban areas — we don’t even notice the stars; but when you take the time to really observe the constellations, it’s awe-inspiring. We’ve spotted several resorts that take advantage of the night sky, offering everything from stargazing in a national park to expert chats about the galaxy.
The desert is a stellar spot at twilight. The twinkling stars blanket the seemingly endless sky, making the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star resort a prime locale for stargazing. Local astronomer Richard Allen shares his expertise on lunar and planetary geology with guests. Arrange nighttime desert excursions via Hummer or private one-on-one sessions. If you would rather stargaze solo, book a suite at the Scottsdale hotel. Along with the luxurious accommodations, you’ll find a high-powered telescope and a detailed constellation chart so you can locate more than just the Big Dipper. The clear, dry air and cloudless nights will leave you starry-eyed, and the resort’s location in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak only adds to the allure.
Sitting mid-mountain on Northstar California Resort, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is a great place to explore the constellations. There are several options, thanks to a partnership among the mountain, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Adventure Company. Embark on a stargazing snowshoe tour (Dec. 26 and 30, Jan. 17, Feb. 21) at Northstar and enjoy a laser tour of the heavenly bodies (accompanied by wine or hot cider). To check out a different area, there are snowshoe tours one Saturday a month at the North Tahoe Regional Park. And if you’re a guest at the hotel, you don’t even have to leave the property to dig into some astronomy — on December 21, there’s a “cosmic” holiday concert featuring the string quartet Accent. Post-performance, grab a cup of hot chocolate and head to one of the Celestron telescopes to spot your favorite constellation. Tony Berendsen, a star guide and president of the Northern Nevada Science Coalition, leads the tours and offers insight on the cosmos.
Get a glimpse of some star clusters from the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s 78 beachfront acres. On select evenings (Nov. 16, 22, 29; Dec. 21, 27, 28), visit the Santa Barbara hotel’s Miro Lawn to curl up with hot chocolate and keep an eye out for shooting stars. Experts from the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit will help you spot constellations such as Hercules, Pisces, Pegasus and Sagittarius and planets such as Venus and Neptune. Plan the astronomy outing for a Saturday so that you can stop by the Lobby Terrace beforehand for s’mores.
Considering Gateway Canyons was created by the founder of Discovery Channel, John Hendricks, it’s no surprise that it has an expert-in-residence program that involves lectures, interactive workshops, demonstrations and activities for guests. And with the desert setting, it’s only natural that the most popular of these activities is stargazing. Take part in s’mores and stargazing, where you’ll commence around one of Gateway Canyons’ fire pits, enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate as you roast marshmallows and chat with the resort’s astronomer about which constellations you’ll be checking out that night. After your fireside prep, head to the Cottonwood Terrace to peek through the professional telescopes. Astronomy aficionados should book one of the Stargazer Casitas. These two-story suites offer an upstairs den with a gazing deck complete with a telescope so you can search the stars yourself.
Resort astronomer Ryan Hennessy takes the lead when it comes to the sky at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel. Stargazing is offered year-round, with each season providing unique viewing opportunities — and testing the thickness of your blood. There are two packages at Four Seasons Jackson Hole: For those who want to stick around the resort, savor wine and cheese as you learn about the night sky with Hennessy and a state-of-the-art Schmidt-Cassegrain 11-inch telescope. The more adventurous ones will want to head out to Grand Teton National Park (in a luxury vehicle, no less) to a top-notch stargazing locale. Enjoy dinner as the sun sets, then check out the galaxies, comets, nebula and double stars, planets and the moon.
Photos Courtesy of Bacara Resort, Four Seasons and Gateway Canyons Resort