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The Best Places to Watch the Sunset in California

The Best Places to Watch the Sunset in California

The Golden State transforms into a magical land at golden hour. Soak in the scenic views and majestic hues at California’s best sunset spots


6 min read

October 06, 2020

With countless picturesque landscapes, verdant national parks, and miles of expansive coastline, the Golden State offers the best sunset spots in the U.S. As violet, coral, and fiery orange hues fill the sky, peace and calm cascade over California.

Although every sunset is different, its majesty never fails to enchant us and capture our imagination. At golden hour, the sunny state transforms into a magical land, so grab a blanket and soak in the scenic views at California’s best places to watch the sunset

The Best Places to Watch the Sunset in SoCal

For an idyllic beach sunset, head to El Matador State Beach and watch hues of red and orange illuminate the sky.

1. El Matador State Beach

Location: 32200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

One of the three beaches within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach, El Matador undoubtedly has the most eye-catching shoreline in SoCal. Surrounded by caves and rock arches, the beach is popular among photographers immortalizing the beauty of sunsets.

The rugged coastline of El Matador State Beach is what makes it stand out. The unique, eroding formations glow as golden hour begins. Once the lovely shades of pink, orange, purple, and blue appear, the beach becomes aflame while the last bits of light subdue. Enjoy the natural features and the best sunset ever at El Matador State Beach, especially if it’s the best beach for your zodiac sign.

Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial offers a breathtaking vista point to savor the San Diego sunset.

2. Mount Soledad

Location: 6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive South, San Diego

At the southernmost end of La Jolla, Mount Soledad stands tall. The mountaintop is home to Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial, with a large white cross as its main feature. The memorial is free to enter and open to anyone looking to enjoy breathtaking vistas. So when you’re in the area, be sure to drive up here to see one of the best sunsets ever in Southern California. Catch a stunning view of bold and brilliant colors above the city lights, and don’t forget to bring blankets; the sunset may be followed by a windy night. 

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3. Brand Park

Location: 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale

Located at the base of the Verdugo Mountains, the 31-acre Brand Park is a hidden gem in Glendale and is one of the best places to watch the sunset near L.A. The entrance is guarded by the Miss American Green Cross statue, which stands as a monument to the state's environmental movement. Inside the park, you'll find numerous trails, a basketball court, a softball field, picnic areas, a children's playground, and a seasonal children's wading pool.

But sunset is the prime time to go. The expansive Southern California park consists of rolling green lawns lined with beautiful trees and a castle-like library that sets you at ease. As night falls, its best features are illuminated in burnt orange and shades of pink, creating a stunning landscape. 

The Mission Bay vistas framed by palm trees create the perfect ambience to enjoy a SoCal sunset.

4. Sunset Point Park

Location: 1400 Dana Landing Road, San Diego

As its name suggests, Sunset Point Park is a fantastic place to soak in the day’s final rays. Also called Mission Bay Park, the waterfront destination is separated from the ocean by a protective rock wall—but that doesn’t take away from the fun. Paved bike paths, picnic tables, and firepits are found throughout the grassy park.

Pleasant for people of all ages, Sunset Point Park is a refreshing beach destination to enjoy in the company of your loved ones while watching the waves race one another. The lovely San Diego gem is also a top-notch, Instagram-worthy sunset spot. So, grab your friends and head out to experience a quintessential California sunset right here.

The Best Places to See the Sunset in NorCal

Take in the spectacular shades of the setting sun from the pristine shores of Dillon Beach.

1. Dillon Beach

Location: 1 Beach Avenue, Dillon Beach

It’s no surprise that beaches are top sunset spots, and you'll want to feast your eyes on the mesmerizing sight at Dillon Beach. The perfect beach to visit year-round, this sandy shore is located along Bodega Bay, attracting surfers and tide-pool aficionados. The privately-owned beach is open to the public for a small fee and is worth every penny.

Massive waves crash against the rocks while the stunning vibrant sunset paints the sky. Photographers hurry to eternalize Mother Nature’s nightly show. Go on a relaxing stroll as seafoam rushes to your feet, or cozy up by the bonfire to enjoy one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see. 

The iconic swing at Bernal Heights park will make your sunset views even more charming.

2. Bernal Heights Park

Location: 3400-3416 Folsom Street, San Francisco

Hillside parks are among California’s best places to watch the sunset, and Bernal Heights Park doesn't disappoint. With grassland wildlife habitats and walking trails, the park is a great spot to enjoy 360-degree views of San Francisco.

Go on a hike or jog just before golden hour and drift from the paved path to explore a network of intersecting dirt trails. Seek out the large, painted rock, which changes colors almost on the daily. Once you reach the summit of Bernal Heights Park, the best features of San Francisco come into sight—the Golden Gate Bridge, San Bruno Mountain, and S.F. Bay. Undeniably one of the most photogenic places in the Bay Area, this park’s panoramic view of the city covered in radiant colors takes your breath away.

Twin Peaks offers staggering vistas to admire the city skyline while the sun sets over San Francisco.

3. Twin Peaks

Location: 501 Twin Peaks Boulevard, San Francisco

A must-see in San Francisco, Twin Peaks is named for its two distinguished summits, which are located in the geographic center of the city. With an elevation of around 925 feet, each peak has its nickname—the North Peak is called Eureka and the South Peak is Noe.

Offering unique vistas of San Francisco’s landscape, Twin Peaks is one of California’s best places to watch the sunset. On clear evenings, you'll see views of the city as well as Berkeley and San Jose. Sometimes, Karl the Fog joins the natural phenomenon, resulting in a mysterious, brooding panoramic view of S.F. and beyond.

Catch the last bits of the sunlight from the Point Reyes Lighthouse overlooking the ocean.

4. Point Reyes Lighthouse

Location: 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes National Seashore

Positioned on a ledge overlooking the ocean, Point Reyes Lighthouse is a spectacular sunset spot and a great whale-watching destination in California. The lighthouse was built 275 feet down the bluff due to concerns that heavy mists could block it out.

After walking down almost 300 steps, you'll arrive at one of California’s top spots to watch the sunset. Providing a perfect vantage point of the coast, Point Reyes Lighthouse shines brightly when golden hour begins. As the sun starts disappearing over the horizon, the structure becomes engulfed in pink and orange. The glory of the sunset overwhelms you; you inhale peace and exhale anxiety.

During golden hour, the rugged terrain of Pinnacles National Park becomes awash in hues of orange and red.

5. Pinnacles National Park

Location: San Benito and Monterey County

Pinnacles National Park was born of fire, and it’s only appropriate to watch the biggest ball of fire disappear into the horizon right here. The park got its name thanks to the domed rock structures that look like they’re bulging out of the earth. The park attracts rock climbers, birdwatchers, campers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts looking for the best sunset spots in the Golden State.

Once you’re done pitching your tent at this national park, get ready to experience the most stunning scenery in your life—the astounding sunset colors hit the rock formations just right as peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and California condors soar above you. 

6. University Park World Peace Rose Garden

Location: 599 East Magnolia Street, Stockton

Featuring a large ceremonial area that represents the sun, University Park World Peace Rose Garden is a wonderful place to catch the last bits of light. Aside from boasting over 250 fragrant roses, the garden also offers a lakeside view of the lush grounds, which is complemented with a lovely arbor at the entrance.

The rose garden is a magnet for locals and a wonderful place to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of your surroundings. So, take a break from your daily routine and spend an evening here immersing yourself in the serene atmosphere. Enjoy a leisurely walk at this wonderful sunset spot that is amplified only by delightful flower beds.  

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