No matter what destination your travels take you to, sunsets seem be a reason for people to gather, drinking in the cloud art and colorful sky. Sunsets form rituals. On a recent vacation sunrise and sunset were the big events of the day. We set our daily rhythm and schedule around them, and watched other travelers do the same.
Sunsets are a cue for vacationers to gather for dinner and to pose for happy snapshots for their family holiday cards. The soft-light hues are radiant, often an explosion of colors like a big bang punctuating the day's end. No two sunsets are alike. I'm sure of it.
Whether you're looking for a vibrant city sunset or a tranquil natural backdrop, these locations offer some of the most stunning evening views in the U.S.:
Key West, Florida - Mallory Square - Each evening, Mallory Square hosts a vibrant sunset celebration. Street performers, artists, and food vendors create a festive atmosphere. Tip: Arrive early to secure a good spot and enjoy the local arts and crafts.
Grand Canyon, Arizona - Hopi Point - Hopi Point on the South Rim offers an expansive view of the canyon. The play of colors at sunset is breathtaking. Tip: Bring a blanket and a camera; the temperature can drop after sunset.
Santa Monica, California - Santa Monica Pier - The Santa Monica Pier provides a classic Californian sunset with its famous Ferris wheel. Tip: Take a ride on the Ferris wheel during sunset for a unique view.
Sedona, Arizona - Airport Mesa - Sedona's Airport Mesa is a spiritual spot to watch the sunset. Tip: Engage in a meditation session as the sun dips below the red rocks.
Maui, Hawaii - Haleakalā National Park - Witness the sun setting above the clouds at Haleakalā summit. Tip: Dress warmly, as temperatures can be chilly at high altitudes.
Savannah, Georgia - Tybee Island - Tybee Island's lighthouse offers a charming backdrop for a romantic sunset. Tip: Enjoy a beach picnic as you watch the sky change colors.
Portland, Oregon - Pittock Mansion - From the grounds of Pittock Mansion, you can view the sunset with Portland’s skyline in the foreground. Tip: Bring a picnic to enjoy in the mansion's gardens.
Naples, Florida - Naples Pier - Naples Pier is not just great for sunsets but also for spotting dolphins. Tip: Stay after sunset for some night fishing.
Mount Desert Island, Maine - Cadillac Mountain Being one of the first places in the U.S. to see the sunrise, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park also offers stunning sunset views. Tip: Take a hike up the mountain for a rewarding experience.
Big Sur, California - Pfeiffer Beach - Pfeiffer Beach is famous for its keyhole rock, where the setting sun creates a natural light show. Tip: Arrive early as parking is limited and the beach can get crowded.
Sunset viewing tips:
- Check Sunset Times: Plan your visit according to the local sunset time.
- Arrive Early: Popular spots can get crowded.
- Dress Appropriately: Evenings can be cooler, especially in high-altitude and desert locations.
- Camera Settings: For photography enthusiasts, bring a tripod and experiment with different settings to capture the perfect sunset shot.
- Respect the Environment: Always leave the places as you found them, respecting nature and local guidelines.
Finally, as there's no way to be objective about such ethereal, transcendent beauty, based solely on personal opinion, here's my list of top sunsets:
- Oia on the island of Santorini, Greece
- 2nd Beach in the Olympic National Park
- Sucia Island in the San Juans
- Marinas anywhere
- Via del'Amore in Cinque Terre, Italy
- Kauai's western-most beach (I can't recall the name)
- Manuel Antonio Beach, Costa Rica
- Kerry Park, Seattle, WA (amazing cityscape and Puget Sound views for sunset)
- Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (for the memories alone)
Where have you seen the best sunsets?
Mary Jo M. says, "One of my favorite places to watch a sunset is from the area by the Netherlands Carillon in Washington DC. There''s a large expanse of grass for a picnic, and you can sit there and watch the sun go down as the lights on all the monuments come up."
September 15, 2023