Top 10 Places to Watch the Sunset in California

5 min read

10 best places to watch the sunset in california

Places to watch the sunset near me

They say the best things in life are for free and we happen to think sunsets are one of nature’s best free gifts to humankind. Sunsets have a way of turning even the worst day into something magical. They remind you that life is beautiful. 

California is known for sunny weather, incredible wine, and spectacular national parks such as Yosemite. However, California is also the sunset capital of the world (okay we made that up), but since the sun sets on the west and we are on the west coast, there’s really no better place to watch the sun dip below the horizon then in California. 

With fabulous beaches, hip rooftop bars, and countless hills and mountains, there are plenty of spots to watch sunsets in California. Below you’ll find our top ten best places to watch the sunset in California. 

If you think you’ll see the same sunset no matter where you are, you’re wrong. Evening can be vastly different depending on whether you’re in a big city or at the beach and the seasons do play a role in which direction the sun sets. For example there are times of the year where the sun will set directly behind Catalina Island when viewing it from Orange County. Other times of the year it’ll set further north or south. 

Although every sunset is different, its beauty never fails to impress us. At golden hour, the sunny state transforms into a magical land, so grab a blanket (it gets chilly at night)  and your camera. Let’s go on an adventure! continue reading to find the best Places to watch the sunset near me.

  1. Huntington Beach

    After a day riding the waves in Surf City USA,  Huntington Beach, take a stroll down to the beach with a blanket to make the most of the destination’s incredible sunsets. To give your trip a true Californian touch, be prepared and stock up on smores’ essentials. Enjoy your treat while you sit around one of the fire rings which line the beach as you watch the sun go down on another day. This is also one of the widest and sandiest beaches around, so we happen to think it makes for a great social distancing hang out. Grab a bunch of blankets and hit the beach with your friends!

    Californian beach sunset
  2. Newport Beach / Crystal Cove State Beach -

    Another Orange County spot is on our list. ‘Lookout Point’ is one of the top romantic sunset spots in Newport, which overlooks the Newport Harbor entrance at Heliotrope, featuring stunning sunset views alongside unbeatable views of the ocean, cliffs and harbor. We also love to go to the Beachcomber café on Crystal Cove State beach and enjoy a drink or appetizer while watching the sunset over Catalina. This is one of the closest restaurants to the water, as its right on the sand.

    10 best sunsets in California crystal cove
  3. La Jolla, San Diego

    Heading down south, we’d be a fool not to mention San Diego when discussing sunsets. With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego is the perfect city to watch the sun go down over peaceful rolling waves, in beautiful weather all year round. Relax at the seaside area of La Jolla, at La Jolla Cove, whilst surrounded by seals and seagulls, as the waves crash along the cliffs. Or head to the more locally famous Wind & Sea beach for optimal sunset viewing. There’s even a playground on the beach in La Jolla if you have little ones in tow. 

  4. Santa Barbara

    There’s a reason the Beach Boys sang the name of this town so many times. It’s beauty is unmatched. Known to locals as Hendry’s Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach is the place to go for great food, surf, beaches and sunsets. Surf the incredible waves that Arroyo is known for in Santa Barbara, then kick back for the evening on a picnic blanket and take in the orange haze which fills the sky as the sun comes down. 

    10 best places to catch the sunset California edition
  5. Santa Cruz

    There are few sunset moments more magical than grabbing a spot in Santa Cruz on the pier or along the coast to spot the late-goers catching a wave! Santa Cruz, California, the birthplace of mainland surfing, is a quintessential beach town. With its legendary 100-year-old seaside amusement park overlooking the sparkling Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz offers the classic California beach vacation. We think Santa Cruz is a great place to take a sunset silhouette photo or snuggle up with a blanket and your best friend. 

  6. Yosemite

    One of the most spectacular points to watch the sunset in Yosemite National Park is Valley View, where you can look along Yosemite Valley from the banks of the Merced River. The moment you reach the location you will realize why Valley View has the reputation for being one of the most exceptional views in all of Yosemite with the colors of the sunset pouring bright light onto the granite cliff faces in front of you.

    Yosemite at sunset thula tula 10 best places to view the sunset
  7. Big Sur

    Is there anyplace more beautiful than Big Sur? With the winding Highway 1 hugging the cliffs, ocean views and huge redwood trees. It is a stunning destination. Hidden along the beautiful Big Sur coastal region, this beach has one of the best sunsets in California. You can reach this sunset beach spot via Highway 1 – just keep a lookout for the Sycamore Canyon Road south of Big Sur Station.

    This sunset spot’s greatest attraction is the keyhole – a perfect hole formed by an arch in the huge rock just off the shore. At the right time of year, the rays of the setting sun can be captured shining through this arch. This, combined with the sky’s changing colours, makes for a spectacular California sunset on the beach.  

  8. Malibu

    Malibu is known for celebrities and swanky shops, but it’s also known for epic sunsets. Located between Point Dume and Leo Carrillo, El Matador Beach is a truly spectacular spot to watch a pacific ocean sunset. You can take in the golden hour from atop the bluff or walk down the stairs and lay on a blanket on the beach. This rugged coastline of rocky outcrops, arches, and caves attracts plenty of photographers who try to capture this gorgeous sunset.

    Malibu California at sunset 10 best places to watch the sunset
  9. Trestles Beach, San Clemente

    Private, peaceful rugged topography. This is the surfing mecca of southern California. Come here to watch surfers ride the waves well after the sun has set. Great for a romantic date as there are very few families here.

  10. Griffith Observatory / Los Angeles

    While there are numerous places to watch the sunset in LA, Griffith Observatory is by far one of the best sunsets in California. This is because this sunset spot won’t only give you a gorgeous view of the sunset over the pacific ocean, but also the Hollywood sign, the city of Los Angeles and the impressive Griffith Observatory. One word of caution, this is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. But it’s a MUST SEE. We definitely saved one of the best for last. 

        Griffith observatory view of los Angeles at sunset

Steve Watts
Steve Watts

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