The 17 Prettiest Sunsets in The USA
What most people don’t realize about a good sunset is that you have to catch them at just the right time. As soon as you set the sky start to glow ablaze with every shade of reds, yellows, oranges, and purples – you know you’re going to be in for a good show. The tricky part is getting somewhere to be able to stop and enjoy them before they’re gone! With the right planning – you can make the best sunsets in the US part of your road trip itinerary. (Including sprinkling in a little pixie dust so your perfect sunset doesn’t get rained out!)
Best Midwest Sunsets
When we say ‘The Midwest’, people usually assume something boring like cornfields and. But having lived in close proximity to the Midwest, we can tell you that the flat ground for miles is a perfect breeding ground for stunning sunsets in the US. Because there aren’t any big mountains, there’s nothing to block the sun for miles and you see colors for so much longer than you would in other places?
Starting off in Kansas, we unexpectedly found ourselves driving through one of the most stunningly vibrant red US sunsets we’ve ever seen. With almost no editing, that first photo of this post was taken along Highway 1-70 near a windmill field. Shelbs and her girlfriends were traveling back from a road trip to Colorado and stopped the car at a random spot on the road. It wasn’t planned but we certainly suggest that you plan to be rolling through Kansas around sunset!
- Another incredible free place to catch a sunset in Kansas on our bucket list is Monument Rocks (AKA the Chalk Pyramids). They were the first National Natural Landmark in Kansas, and with a keyhole formation in the middle of one of them – catching sunsets that shine through are epic!!
Address: 401 Main St, Scott City, KS 67871, USA (This is the address to Keystone Gallery – an archeological museum nearby – but once you start heading that direction you’ll start to see giant billboards for the Chalk Pyramids!)
Home to the Greenbay Packers, tons of craft breweries, and cheese festivals – Wisconsin is known for many things, but you might not know they’re also home to a ton of incredible sunsets in the US. This is because Wisconsin sits on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, with a ton of tributary and natural lakes. Given that none of these are oceans and not subject to larger tides, they can be relatively calm – creating incredible illusions at dusk. When we typed ‘sunsets’ into Google – over a fifth of all the photos were of Wisconsin’s brilliantly glowing skies reflecting off calm waters.
The photo above is at Lake Noquebay, one of their prized fishing lakes but if you’re not into fishing there are plenty more destinations to chase those painted skies.
Sunset Destinations in Wisconsin
- Devil’s Lake State Park – One of the most beautiful places in Wisconsin, known for their hiking and pretty sunsets over Devil’s Lake.
Address: S5975 Park Road, Baraboo, Wisconsin, 53913, USA
- Beaver Dam – One of the prettiest, historical places in Wisconsin, Beaver Dam is also home to gorgeous sunsets on Beaver Dam Lake. In fact – the town is so proud of their sunsets, they have roads near the lake called, Sunset Boulevard and even a ‘Sunset Beach’. Type ‘Sunset at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin’ into Google and you’ll get the picture right away!
- Wyalusing State Park – The major point of interest is the bluff overlooking where the Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi.
Address: 13081 State Park Lane, Bagley, WI 53801, USA
- Apostles Islands National Lakeshore – One of the prettiest places in Wisconsin, and world-famous for kayaking along the sandstone cliffs. Catching one of the most cheerful sunsets in the US from a kayak does not sound like a bad way to end the day!
Address: 415 Washington Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814
Ahhhh, Colorado… the hippie mountainous land all twenty-year-olds should pilgrimage to at least once before fully diving ‘adult-life’? Having been to Colorado three or four times ourselves for hiking, skiing, or just passing through on longer road trips, we know there are some dramatic sunsets to be seen deciding below the mountains. One of our favorite and world-famous Colorado spots to take in the sunset is at Glenwood Hot Springs.
Located in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, you’ll watch the sunset and the moon rise while soaking in giant mineral-water-filled hot springs.. and we really don’t think it gets much better than that on vacation?
Some other amazing places to take in a majestic mountain sunset around Colorado:
- Bishops Castle: Watching the sunset glow through the stained glass or climbing to the tallest tower to see the sunset over the pines of the historic Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.
Address: 12705 CO-165, Rye, Colorado 81069
- Pearl Street in Telluride: With bucket list ski resorts and one of the prettiest places to see the fall colors change in the US, Pearl Street in the whimsical mountain town of Telluride would be an incredible place to walk and take in a sunset!
Best Southwest Sunsets
If you haven’t put a Southwest USA trip on your bucket list yet – you need to. We would take a trip back to Arizona over a trip back to Europe most times because it truly is otherworldly! The Southwest USA is compromised of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. With all 4 states having that stunningly earthy boho vibe – you’ll go back home with an ‘iPhone Storage Full’ kinda problem because you took so many photos!
Coming in first on the best sunsets in the Southwest list is none other than Utah. Having only been in Utah a short while – our experience was limited. However, in that limited time, we understood three things; sunsets in Utah are dramatic, the sky is bigger than anything we’ve ever seen, and that Utah will surprise you at every turn.
One of the reasons the sunsets in Utah are so dramatic is because there isn’t a lot of vegetation and the desert-like climate keeps the sky clear for miles! There a few places we highly recommend for first-timers:
- Monument Valley – One of the most peaceful places we’ve ever been. Not to mention you can see wild horses near Monument Valley? Imagine catching a sunset while you watch a herd of wild horses running by as you hike up the 12 mile Monument Valley Trail.
- Great Salt Lake State Park – Salt Lake City’s claim to fame, this perfectly reflective and calm lake. Imagine taking in a sunset as it reflects off a lake bigger than Delaware?
- Arches National Park – The best way to finish out a great September road trip when the heat has subsided a little and you still have those long days!
Be prepared to hike a little to get the best views!!
5. New Mexico
If you’re like us, New Mexico was never really on our bucket list until the invention of Instagram. We had no idea that the desert could be so beautiful with the sun painting the wildflowers, mountains, and canyons at dusk. With over 5,000 species of plants, a truly diverse landscape, and rich cultural heritage, New Mexico earns its nickname, ‘The Land of Enchantment’.
To see the best sunsets in New Mexico, you have a ton of options:
- Bandolier National Monument – take in a sunset that people have taken in the same way for over 11,000 years. Pretty epic to meditate on that kind of connection
- The White Sands National Monument – The juxtaposition of the white sands against the firey brilliant sunsets would be incredible.
- Badlands National Park – One of New Mexico’s most famous tourist attractions is the strangely shaped peaks of Badlands National Park. From a photography perspective – the idea of capturing a sunset on such a stunning and unusual landscape is intriguing!
If you’ve never seen the Grand Canyon, it should automatically be added to your bucket list. The feel of the wind whipping up the walls from the canyon, the birds that soar overhead, the absolute quiet. You can’t imagine the feeling of complete freedom and awe to stand at the edge of the legendary 10-mile wide Grand Canyon as the sun goes down? Sunsets may never be the same for you after that! (Especially if you have a bottle of Kentucky bourbon keeping you company..? We did that. Highly recommend it.)
On our road trip, we also stopped at the Sunset Crater National Monument. After a quick cookout to watch the sunset, we realized that all of Arizona has gorgeous sunsets. One of the more unique places we’ve ever visited, we would go back and officially camp overnight! As the sun went down over the mountains, it was like watching a rainbow erupt. Imagining it at sunrise sounds incredible!
Besides those two national monuments – there are a few other incredible and unique places in Arizona to catch a sunset:
- The Soldier’s Pass Hidden Cave of Sedona – As the sun goes down the cave will glow so brilliantly!
- Vermillion Cliffs – This painted stripey desert is the most brightly orange thing we’ve ever seen!
Bonus Stop: Las Vegas
If you’re looking to add a pit stop to your Southwest road trip and catch an epic USA sunset – head to Las Vegas. Whether you’re walking The Strip, taking a day trip to Magic Mountain, or riding the Linq High Roller Ferris wheel, sunsets in Las Vegas are incredible.
See our full guide on exploring Las Vegas here!
Best Beach Sunsets Across The US
You’ve probably heard that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Following this logic, it’s pretty easy to understand why some of the most stunning sunsets in the US are on the West Coast. Not to mention that the Pacific ocean brings in decent weather for much of the year, so the landscapes stay unwavering lush and photography-worthy. You could do a road trip from the Southernmost part of the coast and head all the way up North, seeing a sunset every night of your trip!
Starting with California, there are 840 miles of beaches along its ‘Golden Coast’. As the third-longest coastline of any state in the US, we think that’s enough to catch one or two sunsets?
Just imagine yourself flitting up the Pacific Coast Highway in a jeep during the summer, picnic basket in the back… You see the telltale palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze as the skies start to throw out glorious shades of oranges and reds… We dig that complete and totally relaxed vibe.
Best California Beaches To Catch A Sunset
We highly recommend bringing bourbon in a reusable thermos because you canâ€™t take glass on the beach! Also ginger soda… it’s the perfect refreshing mix!
- Carmel Beach – In the colorful artist’s village along the Pacific Coast Highway, you can have a perfect day exploring the town and finish up with a picnic on the beach.
Address: Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
- Hurricane Point California – One of the highest points in Monterey County in Big Sur.
Address: 28413 Cabrillo Hwy Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923
- Keyhole Arch at Pfeiffer Beach – one of the most highly photographed world-famous California landmarks!
Address: Sycamore Canyon Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920
Other Sunset Destinations Around California
Besides just beaches, California is also home to some of the most gorgeous national parks and vineyards. Any of these would be perfect scenic drives to catch a sunset!
- Griffith Park Observatory: A stunning art-deco architectural masterpiece with 360-degree views of downtown Los Angeles.
Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
- Anaheim Hills – From this upscale neighborhood in Southern California, you can see downtown Los Angeles, Catalina Island, and Corona on clear days from two different locations:
Orange Hill Restaurant- Address:
Emerald Vista Point – Address:
- Chateau Montelena Winery: One of the prettiest grounds in all of Napa Valley with ivy crawling up the front of their gorgeous European-style castle. A romantic stroll here after doing a wine tasting sounds pretty amazing at sunset?
Address: 1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515
One of the most easily recognized coastlines in all of the Instagrammable US, Oregon has a ton of amazing beaches for taking in a sunset! Some are rocky, some are perfectly sandy and pristine, and some are pristine secret coves that require a short hike. Other than beaches, Oregon is like California with no shortage of gorgeous landscapes. The forests look like something straight out of The Hobbit or Avatar, and theirs even an old volcano in the middle of Oregon.
- Cannon Beach – If you only have time to take in one beach on your trip through Oregon, head to Cannon Beach to snag a view of their prismatic sunsets! The beach is also long enough for anyone to get a front-row seat after taking in all of Haystack Rock, (one of the largest lava rock formations on the Oregon coast and the most famous!)
Address: 1387 S Spruce St, Cannon Beach, OR 97110
- Secret Beach – One of the prettiest hidden coves in Oregon is Secret beach, and a little-known perfect spot to take in the sunset is Spruce Island Viewpoint!
Address: Old US Hwy 101, Brookings, OR 97415
- Hobbit Beach – Remember us talking about how the forests here are like something straight out of The Hobbit? Along the half-mile path to the beach- there are little ‘hobbit holes’ decorated with seashells and lush shrubbery.
Address: 91892-91974 Oregon Coast Hwy, Florence, OR 97439
- Crater Lake – A dormant volcano in the center of Oregon? You can see from rim to rim of the 6-mile crater from the Sinnot Memorial Observation Station. You’re also close to the 3.4-mile trail to Garfield Peak! Another epic vantage spot to view the crater at sunset.
Trailhead Address: Rim Dr, Crater Lake, OR 97604
One of the most beautiful places in the USA and practically every picture that anyone ever posts of their trip to Hawaii includes a sunset! Some friends of ours even did their pregnancy announcement pictures in the water? They turned out stunning. With 8 large islands being the most well-known in Hawaii, there are actually 137 islands dotting the horizon of your picture-perfect sunset.
If you want a picture-perfect day, here would be our itinerary. Take time to hike and explore the island, grab a fresh poke bowl for lunch, go horseback riding through the valleys and then head to a luau. As you’re munching down on deliciously juicy Kalua Pig, Huli-Huli chicken, and purple mashed sweet potatoes, you’ll be able to watch the sun go down with a Pina colada in hand.
Best Sunsets In Hawaii
- Sunset Point in Oahu
Address: 59-093 Hoalua St, Haleiwa, HI 96712
- Makua Beach on Honolulu
Address: 86260 Farrington Hwy, Waialua, HI 96791
- Poipu Beach on Kauai Island
Address: 2179 Hoone Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
- Kaanapali Beach on Maui
Address: 2525 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761 (Address to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel)
It’s not often on the East Coast that we talk about gorgeous sunsets. Since the sun sets in the West, typically the sun would be setting away from the ocean. Even so, there are some gorgeous places to catch a sunset in Maine! Think of the lighthouse dotted coastline, with seagulls culling overhead, and ships coming in after trawling all day? (Not to mention that Maine actually has a longer coastline than California! Giving you plenty of bucket-list destinations to catch one of those flaming red sunsets over the Atlantic.)
So what does this mean when you’re looking for where to catch the perfect sunset in main? Think national parks and pretty coastal towns.
- Kennebunkport: One of the most picturesque small towns on Maine’s coast, Kennebunkport is a charming mix of lighthouses, 19th-century churches, and brightly colored beachfront homes. After you’re done exploring the city for the day, head to Cape Porpoise. This fishing village is famous for its scenic views at sunset!
- Bar Harbour’s Cadillac Mountain: The highest point along the North Atlantic coast at 1,530 feet above sea level. It’s in Arcadia National Park, and there are tons of spots to take in the panoramic views! (You could even go at sunrise and see the tiny islands off the coast!)
Best Sunsets In Acadia National Park
Besides Cadillac Mountain – there are other spots around Acadia to take in a sunset and still be surrounded by the gorgeous pink granite and wild blueberries Acadia is known for.
- Precipice Trail: For the adventure seekers looking to do something a little more via ferrata, this trail takes you to Champlain Mountain where you’ll find stunning views of Bar Harbor, Maine at sunset!
- Ocean Path: An easy hike from Sand Beach to Otter Point, and perfect to take in a sunset if you’re looking for something less intensive!
- Beech Cliff Ladder Trail: A little mix of all of the best parts of Acadia. Scenic views for taking in a sunset, short walks along cliffs, and a couple of ladder climbs.
**A few things to keep in mind when considering Acadia National Park for sunset watching. It’s $30 a car to enter the park so make sure to bring your wallet! (We’ve forgotten ours and had to turn around.) Then, when hiking any of the trails to see a sunset – you should have proper light to get back after sunset. Headlamps would be most ideal so your hands are free!
Best City Sunsets
If you’ve ever been to any of the mega-metropolis cities around the US, you know there’s just something special about getting lost in the anonymity. When you’re done escaping a little – you can also find some incredible perspectives throughout the city to really take in how big they are!
We already talked about catching a sunset on one of Oregon’s incredible coastlines. Then maybe heading over to Crater Lake to catch a glimpse of the sun going down over that incredible spot. But Washington is close by and has another gem in its biggest city: Seattle. Did you know that you can see Mount Ranier of the Cascade Range from the city? Specifically, a sunset from Kerry Park with the lit-up Space Needle and the mountains in the background?
The juxtaposition of the ancient mountains and the futuristic Space needle would be an incredible sight! A few more places to take in the sunset in Seattle:
- The Space Needle: With its 360-degree rotating glass floor and floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the deck, it’s a perfect place to take in a stunning Seattle sunset overlooking Elliot Bay and Bainbridge Island across the water.
- Sunset Hill Park – One of the prettiest little hidden parks in Seattle! You get amazing views of the sun sinking over Puget Sound and a sea of little boats bobbing in the harbor.
Address: 7531 34th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117
Chicago is said to be the best of bost worlds between a city skyline and an ocean sunset. Even though most people think of Windy City as an industrial city, there are also a ton of places to view a sunset while submerged in nature. Everyone traveling through Chicago has heard of 360 Chicago. Home to The Tilt (Chicago’s highest thrill ride), and Bar 94, where you can drink any of Chicago’s craft beers while you take in a sunset!
A few other locations around Chicago to take in sunset:
- The Chicago Botanical Gardens: With 6 miles of shoreline, and 27 gardens, the gardens are a true escape from the bustling city!
- The Signature Room: Perfect for date night! On the 95th floor, home to an incredible American cuisine restaurant and bar.
Address: 875 N. Michigan Ave.
- Skydeck Chicago: On the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the Ledge’s Instagram famous glass boxes are 4.3 feet of glass you can walk out over!
Address: 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606
13. New York City
It’s New York City… the place where all good things happen when you’re least expecting it. You turn the corner and find Levain Bakery, the place you’ve been drooling about from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives? You watch King Kong at Broadway after getting slightly inebriated on the subway on the way there. New York City is a beautiful place, but never more beautiful than when lit up at night. Here are our favorite sunset spots around the city!
- The Brooklyn Bridge – Whether you’re walking from Dumbo in Brooklyn or City Hall Park on Centre Street, the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset is stunning!
- The Vessel – In Hudson Yards, this interactive artwork staircase provides a perfect view as the sunsets on the Hudson River. The glow from this incredible bronze piece of art is the perfect place to end a perfect day exploring New York City.
There are many more incredible Instagram-worthy locations around New York City! Sign up for our mailing list here and be the first to find out when we publish our NYC guide!
Best Southern Sunsets
Since we’re Southernors, we’ll let you in on what we mentally call the South. ‘Southern’ states are Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and the like. (Basically, we just claim all the places with the best food!) In other words, we have a huge territory, ripe with gorgeous sunsets. Not to mention that we’re also some of the most underrated tourist destinations in the continental US!
The best part about taking in a sunset in the South is after the sun goes down. Since the South is traditionally farmland surrounding most of our major cities for miles, you don’t get as much light pollution. Some of the best USA star gazings can be done in areas where there isn’t any light pollution in states like West Virginia.
If you’ve never been to Kentucky, consider it for your next road trip. There really is no shortage of perfect weekend getaways with so much to see and do for the explorer. Besides Louisville being home to tons of incredible restaurants, Kentucky is gorgeous in the spring and perfect for a remote weekend getaway!
It’s hard to say where the best sunsets in Kentucky are because we truly have so many of them no matter where you’re driving. There’s actually a science behind it as well! You may have heard of the Ohio River Valley as being famous for dust and pollen? While it’s typically associated with allergy season, what you may not know is that it’s also the reason behind our incredible sunsets. The scientific effect is called ‘Rayleigh Scattering’.
One of our favorite places to catch a sunset in Kentucky is the scenic drive to Woodford Distillery. Passing all of the horse farms, where horses graze on rolling green hills at sunset is pretty much Kentucky perfect. For a few other places less well known:
- Red River Gorge at Hansen’s Point – Highly recommend downloading offline maps to make sure you find this one!! Not only are there pretty sunsets, but it’s also even more famous for its sunrises. The clouds sit low between the mountains and it’s a stunning site to see!
- Lighthouse Landing at Kentucky Lake – The Land Between the Lakes is a well-known area for camping and catching sunsets!!
Texas is another place, like Kansas, with wide-open skies. In other words, Texas becomes perfect for Southern breeding ground for epic sunsets across their vast cattle ranches! Other than your typical Texas scenes, there are a few famous landmarks in Texas worth a scenic drive.
- Prada Marfa – The Prada art installation in the middle of the desert near Valentine, Texas. (you’ve probably seen it on Instagram!) With the sun setting over the Chihuahuan Desert, we couldn’t imagine a more perfect road trip stop!
Address: 14880 US-90, Valentine, TX 79854
- Big Bend National Park: If you continue on your Texas Road trip South – you’ll run into Big Bend National Park. From hiking to kayaking down the Rio Grande at sunset, Big Bend National Park is a stunning place to take in a sunset along the United States/Mexico border.
16. West Virginia
West Virginia is one of the least populated states in the continental US. As a result, there are miles and miles of undeveloped mountain ranges with undisturbed access to sunset viewing. You won’t see any city skylines, powerlines or people, which is the perfect escape!
See our full guide to the Monongahela National Forest and Dolly Sods in West Virginia here!
17. The Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the most prestigious scenic drives in the US, coasting along the Blue Ridge Parkway is an epic experience. Through the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, you’ll see some of the most spectacular sunsets in the South. The Blue Ridge Parkway has many hikes and overlooks available to really soak in the mountains, no matter what state you’re driving through.
- Grandfather Mountain (North Carolina) – only a 1.2-mile hike, you’ll be able to take in a sunset at one of the highest points in North Carolina.
- Craggy Gardens Trail (North Carolina) – Hiking 1.9 miles through a magical forest of blooming rhododendrons and blueberries in the spring, taking in a sunset here is nothing short of magical!
- Chimney Rock State Park – We stopped here on our Asheville trip and it was incredible! (Not to mention in the same park you can see the 404 foot, Hickory Nut Falls! One of the tallest waterfalls East of the Mississippi!)
- Mabry Mill – Off of milepost 176.1, this 100-year-old mill would be so gorgeous against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains!
True romantics at heart, we’ve been to some incredible destinations across the US. The kinds of places that set your soul on fire and allow you to truly be somewhere. At the heart of many of these experiences, there was just something special about the way the sun went down? A moment of complete stillness in a world that goes so fast.
** For a few tips on how to capture sunsets – see here for a great article from the Digital Photography School.
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You left out Washington DC. Have you ever seen a sunset at the National Mall? It is spectacular. I am happy to send you a pic to add to your write up. I live in DC & can honestly report our city sunsets are incredible.
Evan and ShelbyTerri
I would love if you could send us a photo! We would happily add it in!