It’s not likely I’ll be up in time for sunrise, but I’ll go out of my way to experience a sunset. Do a search for #sunset on Instagram and you’ll find plenty of other folks who feel the same way. Whether it’s viewed over an ocean, mountains or just the countryside, sunsets deserve to be celebrated. I’ve seen some gorgeous ones all across the country and here are 5 of my favorites, so far!
Key West, Florida
There’s something to see at every turn in Florida’s quirkiest city. But the most celebrated attraction is sunset. Crowds of tourists and locals gather at Mallory Square every evening for a Sunset Celebration. While you wait for the brilliant orange sun to sink into the sea, there are plenty of entertainers to keep you company. Browse arts and crafts booths, munch on conch fritters from the food carts or consult a psychic about your future. Street performers of every type abound. The tightrope walking cats are always a hit.
For a less crowded sunset viewing option, take to the water for a champagne sunset sail. Board a schooner at Historic Key West Seaport for a tour of the city’s harbor and surrounding waters. You’ll glide past Mallory Square to a front row seat for an awe inspiring Key West sunset with a glass of bubbly in hand.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina & Virginia
Beginning at the edge of Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds 469 miles south to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Split rail fences, historic structures, and old farmsteads tell the story of the route’s history along the way. Scenic overlooks yield views of majestic mountains and deep ravines. And there are plenty of places to hike just off the parkway. Road-tripping along the parkway is typically a daytime activity given the numerous hiking options and vistas along the way. But, if you plan to end your day close to sunset, you’ll be treated to a multichromatic sky hovering above the mountain peaks. I can’t think of a better end to a day filled with nature.
The West Side of Manhattan, New York
Living in West Harlem along the Hudson River, I’m admittedly partial to the west side of my city. As I mentioned before, I’m not an early riser, so the sunrises on the East River hold no lure for me. But I’ll stop what I’m doing in the evening to capture a few photos of the soft pink and purple sunset sky over the Hudson River from my terrace.
With the Hudson River Greenway stretching 11 miles—the entire length of Manhattan’s west side—you’ll be able to find plenty of sunset viewing options too, without joining me on my terrace. One excellent option is New York’s only elevated park, the High Line. Built on a historic freight rail line, the High Line stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street along Manhattan’s west side. This elevated walkway has become one of New York’s top attractions and one of the best spots to catch the sunset’s soft hues as the city lights begin to twinkle behind you.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Spreading out over one million acres and encompassing the entire Chisos mountain range along with a large section of the Chihuahuan Desert, Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park are home to over 1,200 species of plants, 450 species of birds and 3,600 species of insects and animals including mountain lions, bears, jack rabbits, mule deer, roadrunners and coyotes (to chase the road runners, of course.) Days are filled with hiking, river float trips, horseback riding and mountain biking. But as the sun begins to set, the sky turns into a jaw-dropping spectacle. Unimaginable shades of orange, red and gold blanket the panoramic sky hovering above the jagged mountain tops. They say everything is bigger in Texas and in Big Bend, the sunsets live up to the hype. Filling the entire sky, these beauties will stop you in your tracks. Seriously, I’m still in awe.
Pretty Much Anywhere in Arizona
Sunsets are said to be life changing when witnessed over the Grand Canyon. I’ve yet to get there, so I can’t comment from experience. But, to be honest, sunsets can be life altering pretty much anywhere in Arizona. The deep oranges, golds and reds painted across the state’s broad expanse of sky silhouetting cacti and distant mountain ranges is captivating no matter where you view it. While I would love to see this spectacle over the Grand Canyon, I’m not sure my heart can take it. The one outside of my little hotel in Wilcox, Arizona took my breath away and there wasn’t a canyon in sight. We should expect this from Arizona — even the state license plate showcases a setting sun.
Where is your favorite spot to catch a sunset?
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