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McDonald Observatory

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
Phone Number: +1 432-426-3640
10:00 - 17:30
Closed now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 - 17:30
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours

The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the...

The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the positive reviews (and even some of the negative ones, too!) that well-meaning and well-intentioned visitors have left over the years. However, we feel that TripAdvisor does not provide anywhere close to the level of management tools needed to combat the misinformation that routinely is provided by, again, well-intentioned visitors to others visiting its pages. With no way other than the "management response" feature to cull and corral the sometimes wildly misleading information posted on these pages, we feel that using TripAdvisor for anything beyond getting the general feel of the establishment is pointless.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 858 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 637
  • 152
    Very good
  • 42
  • 13
  • 7
First Visit! Loved it!

We did a Star Party on a Friday night. It was a cloudless sky in October with an amazing night time sky. You meet at the visitor center which is down the mountain from the large... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 5 days ago
Dallas, Texas
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858 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 851: English reviews
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
92 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

We did a Star Party on a Friday night. It was a cloudless sky in October with an amazing night time sky. You meet at the visitor center which is down the mountain from the large observatory. It has a ticket booth, small restaurant, theatre, and shop. Buy your ticket ahead of time as tickets are limited. The evening starts... More 

Thank Toby-Likes-Travel
Austin, TX
Level Contributor
39 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

Even for non-astronomers this place is great. The drive to and from and the view is amazing for Texas. The staff giving the tour was very knowledgeable, handled questions and comments well from those know-it-all types and kept us interested. We visited during the daytime tour as driving at night is no longer our forte. The tour is full of... More 

1 Thank TX_Senior_Traveler
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Visited with two children, ages 11 and 8, for a star party. We got there around 5:30 to eat at Star Date cafe first and glad we did! By 6:00 the line was crazy, and there were only a couple people working the kitchen. The food took awhile but it was really good and well priced. There's a museum you... More 

Thank Anne B
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

I couldn't decide whether to rate this a 3 or a 4. It was amazing. I was disappointed in the star gaze party only because there were so many people and not enough telescopes. We were only able to see through two telescopes although some people we talked to saw 3 or 4. The star gaze party is a night... More 

Thank Patsy C
Plano, TX
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

The McDonald Observatory. Is a must see. Call way in advance to reserve your place at a Star Party. Unbelievable experience.

Thank garymV3121DV
Poplarville, Mississippi
Level Contributor
58 reviews
39 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

The Sun presentation was interesting. The tour of the telescopes was ok, but unless you're a real astronomy buff a bit much detail. But worth the trip if you're in the area. Didn't do the Star part. Too cold when we were here!

Thank DYK640
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
150 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

This is a great place for viewing the sky at night. I attended a Star Party where various telescopes are set up for viewing various planets, stars, clusters, etc. Staff and volunteers are there to explain what you are viewing and will answer questions and provide assistance. For the star party, you may want to select a date that does... More 

Thank MNSQ575
Williamsburg, Virginia
Level Contributor
25 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Friday and Saturday nights are Star Dates at the McDonald Observatory. What an awesome way to spend the evening. At nightfall, you make your way to an amphitheater for a very well-informed (but easy to understand) talk about the stars, galaxies and constellations. With the help of a powerful laser beam, they point out various stars, nebulae, etc. Then you... More 

Thank happyhamster123
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
146 reviews
48 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

We took all three tours available: daylight tour of facilities, twilight lecture on constellations, and the outside star party. If it is cold, be sure to dress warmly and bring something to cover the outside concrete benches. The cafe is convenient, but not something one would likely go to if there was competition. Our guide, Dan, was extremely knowledgeable and... More 

Thank fnewton2
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

The Star Party is really fun and cheap. But the special viewing nights are a bucket list experience.

1 Thank Hooverson

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Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of McDonald Observatory and other visitors
7 questions
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Questions? Get answers from McDonald Observatory staff and past visitors.
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Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?