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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 961 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 718
  • 169
    Very good
  • 44
  • 13
  • 9
Worth the trip

Although I have been to the Star Party several times before , this was my 1st trip in a number of years. They keep adding on and improving it. It is cool just to go up there and... read more

Reviewed 3 weeks ago
David F
Round Rock, Texas

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961 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 953: English reviews
Round Rock, Texas
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Although I have been to the Star Party several times before , this was my 1st trip in a number of years. They keep adding on and improving it. It is cool just to go up there and see how an observatory is set up and run. On the other hand, the cost is $18 to listen to a generic... More 

Thank David F
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
128 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

great program for learning of the stars and getting a chance to view stars, the moon and visible planets through several telescopes. night programs only done 3 nights a week and sell out so make reservations. they also do sun viewing tours during the day and they also sell out great people manning the telescopes and the program introduction.

Thank jfp01
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

You have to make an effort to get to the observatory and it is well worth it. While you can tour it on your own, Kelly was a great guide and made the tour well worth the $$.

Thank Judy C
Benbrook, Texas
Level Contributor
4 reviews
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

Excellent tour was provided with an opportunity to view the Sun through one of the many telescopes. The guide, Kelly, was absolutely fabulous. Extremely knowledgeable even though he had no degree in astronomy. He has taken his passion for it and made a fabulous career! On the tour we drove the highest paved road in Texas if that's on your... More 

Thank SonicAT
crawford, United States
Level Contributor
13 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

After a trip through Big Bend National Park we elected to visit McDonald Observatory near Ft. Davis. Prior to the visit we had purchased tickets for the Twilight program and also for the Star Party. These are separate events and are arranged, time wise, so that visitors can do both if they choose. The Twilight program is held in a... More 

Thank Royce M
Norman, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
826 reviews
393 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 583 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

This is an interesting place to visit even if there is no star party. During the day you can visit the museum and shop and can buy a snack at the café. The start parties can and probably should be booked online. I booked at the last minute and there were 7 openings left. By the time I got to... More 

Thank Sarracenia
Liberty, Texas
Level Contributor
292 reviews
112 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Wow! We took a day guided tour of the Observatory and the telescopes and then went to the Star Party that night. You have to come here on purpose because it's a long way from everywhere but so worth the trip. All of the employees are friendly and helpful and it was fun to learn so many new things.

Thank Scook112301
Level Contributor
158 reviews
74 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

I think we enjoyed the day tour more than the star party, but both are good. Live images of the sun and tour of telecopes were great. Also, enjoyed the stories about the property over the years. Don't miss if you are in the area.

Thank darwinmoore
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
60 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We had scheduled a day tour and also the night Star Party. This was such a memorable day and night. Our tour guides we just outstanding. The star party was out of this world. We saw the Milky Way, so many constellations, and it was so informative. Don't miss it. Make sure you dress warmly for the night. And make... More 

Thank askittl
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
106 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 April 2017 via mobile

The McDonald Observatory has been a place I've dreamed of going to- and I finally made it. We attended a stargazer party- book in advance! They sell out. Our night was clear. Fyi, you are outside- plan what you wear accordingly. They give you an overview then there are stations to go to and view different things- Jupiter, galaxies, stars.... More 

Thank wakelang

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Questions & Answers

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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?