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The Top 9 Most Beautiful Places to View Sunsets on the West Coast
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The Top 9 Most Beautiful Places to View Sunsets on the West Coast

A perfect end to your day, a magical sunset has the power to transform the most ordinary of settings into a glistening paradise.

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5 min read

October 22, 2021

Say what you will, but nothing can top a beautiful sunset. Skies above clothe in thousands of colors, making any and every one of your travel experiences complete—this proves once and for all that life is all about the simplest of pleasures. A perfect end to your day, a magical sunset has the power to transform the most ordinary of settings into a glistening paradise. 

The West Coast offers hundreds of sunset-seeking spots, but here we’ve narrowed down the best and the brightest. So grab your camera and don your favorite sunnies—the West Coast sunsets are where it’s at.

The colors. The atmosphere. The emotions they evoke. Some sunsets are so mind-bogglingly beautiful that it can be hard to find words to describe them.

Tips for Catching the Best West Coast Sunsets

1. Find a secluded spot. The renowned sunset spots are of course incredible, but we’ve found that a lot of our favorites are in places that are not as well-known—or at least the more secluded corners of iconic spots.

2. Don't be afraid of the clouds. If you’re gearing up to watch the sunset and suddenly see clouds on the horizon, don’t let this discourage you. As long as the sky isn’t fully covered, you might still be able to witness an amazing sight.

3. Timing is everything. Sunsets require your utmost punctuality. If you’re even slightly late, you might miss out on something miraculous. So make sure to check the weather apps and plan things accordingly.

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4. No sunset is the same. Just because you’ve seen a sunset in the same place before doesn’t mean you’re going to see the exact same thing. Sunsets vary based on the weather, temperature, and time of the year—the best thing to do is to keep an open mind and trust Mother Nature.

5. Don’t forget sunscreen. This applies mostly to the West Coast sunsets of California, as the sun is super hot and powerful here—yes, even during sunset.

6. Do a timelapse. If you’re really worried about missing the moment, time-lapsing the whole thing can prove to be a life-changing hack. This way, you’ll be able to focus on what’s ahead rather than looking through a lens and focusing more on the photo ops. 

The Most Breathtaking West Coast Sunsets 

There’s something transcendent about sunsets. They transfix us, turn our attention skyward, and transform us all into hopeless romantics.

1. Santa Monica, California 

The Golden State’s much-beloved playground, the Santa Monica Pier features roller coasters, uber-cool arcades, fancy boutiques, and hip cafes—not to mention the whirling carousel and an aquarium. Clearly, things to do here are plenty; but one of Santa Monica’s best experiences is au naturel. When the sun begins to set, head to the beach below the jetty; it will truly be a magical sight. 

2. Anchorage, Alaska 

Frozen lakes, dark pine forests, and a thick blanket of snow and ice—imagine these glistening beneath the glorious haze of sunset. This city is one of the best places to catch the West Coast sunset—its sky dyed a stunning shade of caramel yellow and the cool wind blowing through your hair proves to be an experience unlike any other. 

The sun’s saying goodnight again. Fiery skies tower overhead. Another day draws to a close. A sunset that good doesn’t need a filter.

3. San Francisco Bay, California

While San Francisco’s Alcatraz isn’t the first thing you’d associate with nature’s bounty, the sunsets it boasts are truly out of this world—you just have to know where to look. The buildings of this once-notorious prison are now enveloped by beautiful gardens, a few of which allow for glimpses of yellow, orange, pink, and vermillion that truly take your breath away. 

4. Bandon, Oregon

The sleepy town of Bandon has a charm that never quite wears off even after you leave it; we suspect it has something to do with the famed Oregon sunsets. The heart of this town boasts a funky village, where you can walk on the beach, stroll the Old Town Boardwalk, feast on clam chowder, and end the evening by watching the gorgeous sunset—now this is paradise.

When the sun dips below the horizon, something in our soul awakens. Stop. Be still. And watch as the sunset paints the sky with its magic.

5. Santa Cruz, California

Named after a natural arch in a rock offshore, Natural Bridges State Beach is a Santa Cruz staple you can’t miss. At sundown, you get to watch the waves crash through the arch as the golden rays of the sun create a halo above your head. Go ahead and take a couple of photos, but don’t forget to live in the moment; that feeling you get when it’s just you and the gorgeous sunset—that’s what it’s all about.

6. El Porto, California 

If you follow surf culture then you know El Porto; it’s that simple. But there’s plenty more to do in the area—playing volleyball or exploring the colorful cuisine, for instance. Spend the full day basking in the sun and stay at the beach for sunset. Watching the sun descend into the horizon will feel as though it’s touching the ocean; now that’s a photo op you can brag about!

There’s nothing more magical than watching a sunset with a loved one. Here’s to a lifetime of golden sunsets spent together.

7. Seattle, Washington 

Seattle’s Discovery Park offers a beautiful escape from the city buzz, especially when you’re taking one of the nearby trails to the sparkling lighthouse. Climb up and you’ll be able to see a breathtaking stretch of shore; Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and Mt. Rainier will all provide the excellent backdrop for that iconic Seattle sunset.

Sunsets are nature’s way of making us pay attention. There’s nothing like a fiery sun dropping below the horizon to remind you how small you are.

8. Big Sur, California

You probably saw this one coming. Big Sur generally seems tailor-fit for a beautiful sunset, but if we had to choose one spot in the coastal region, it would definitely be Pfeiffer Beach. Reach this gem via Highway One and switch to Sycamore Canyon Road just south of Big Sur Station. Once you’re there, head straight to the keyhole—a natural treat formed by an arch in the huge rock overlooking the shore. If you catch the sunset just in time, you’ll be able to capture the rays through the hole; it’s a sight you truly can’t put into words.

9. Los Angeles, California

Out of all the places to catch the iconic La La Land sunset, Griffith Observatory is by far the best, mostly because of the sheer diversity you get off the top of this landmark; let’s count, shall we? You got the city buildings, the roaring Pacific, the Hollywood Sign, and the neighboring hills—all of these clad in cotton-candy hues is going to make for a quintessential reminder of the City of Angels.

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