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McDonald Observatory

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Address: 3640 Dark Sky Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734-3010
Phone Number: +1 432-426-3640
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Open now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
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 797 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 599
  • 138
    Very good
  • 35
  • 12
  • 7
went to the star party

Nice visitors center. Staff was very knowledgeable. Lots to look at and learn. Food at the Stardate Cafe was a pleasant surprise. Beautiful drive to the observatory. Varied... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed yesterday
Comfort, Texas
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797 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 791: English reviews
Comfort, Texas
Level Contributor
33 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW

Nice visitors center. Staff was very knowledgeable. Lots to look at and learn. Food at the Stardate Cafe was a pleasant surprise. Beautiful drive to the observatory. Varied sizes of telescopes available to look through (small to really big).

Thank 830Countryside
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
49 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW

We visited the observatory and for the small price of $8/person, got a very interesting (and enjoyable) presentation about the sun in addition getting a bus ride up to the telescope to see it as well. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and makes the trip fun in addition to informative. We had to cut some parts early with young kids,... More 

Thank jcath07
Morro Bay, CA
Level Contributor
111 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

Took my tour group to a Star Party and it had rained very heavy for most of the afternoon. Even though the amphitheater had flooded, they were able to do their presentation in the open and then had at least ten scopes set up with some very enthusiastic volunteers. Ate at the Star Date Cafe and had a salad which... More 

Thank slobird
2 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago NEW via mobile

Wonderful place. Unfortunately, August is the rainy season. Overcast when we were there, but the clouds did part some & we got to see Mars & Saturn & some stars & constellations. Look forward to going back at a different time of year. Fair amt. of walking. Might want to bring binoculars.

Thank Mary G
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
32 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

This was a great choice for our vacation! It doesn't start till 9:30pm and you climb up up up to the observatory . Easy parking . Wonderful facility. They keep the cafe and shop open for everyone. It sold out every night!!! But lots of telescopes so the lines to view are short. Such knowledge in a small place- awesome.... More 

Thank CissieMcCree
Level Contributor
75 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago

I visited the Obsevatory early morning and browsed the gift shop and exhibits and attended the presentation. Went back for the star party. I really wasn't looking forward to it as I had had a full day's activities and lots of traveling and I was on my own. I am so glad I went. The presenter was entertaining and the... More 

1 Thank petraAbuDhabi_Uae
The Colony, Texas
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago

Took the 2 Pm guided tour. Starts with a 30 minute narrated film about the sun. Then took a drive up to the 2 telescope buildings. When we arrived at the 1st site a thunderstorm rolled in so they were unable to get the scope out. It was pretty incredible to be in there during the storm as we were... More 

Thank Barb W
Level Contributor
18 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Beautiful drive to the observatory. IF you're not into, and I mean into, this of installation, I would strongly suggest you have reservations for one of the tours and/or events. I don't remember the pricing but it's on their site. If you don't, like we didn't, there's not much to do on your own. We did enjoy the views and... More 

Thank Jan K
Level Contributor
33 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Our family of 4 went to the star party. I wasn't expecting a lot of people, yet there were probably 100- or close. Still a great time. The guides are fun and informative. Viewing the stars is amazing...and as my daughter said, "you know those pictures where there are so many stars they look fake? Well they're not fake! Those... More 

Thank Elsomalo
Kelowna, Canada
Level Contributor
248 reviews
79 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 204 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

We were lucky enough to attend a star party at the Observatory on a recent trip through West Texas. We lost track of time while having dinner in Fort Davis and arrived just in time. On arrival, the staff were busily preparing backup plans (lectures, movies, etc) as the evening sky was thick with clouds. Ten minutes later, the skies... More 

Thank Sharimck

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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?