When it comes to magic hour, it’s hard to find a sunset that won’t make you feel at least a little warm and fuzzy inside (especially if a beach cocktail is involved). But these eight spots across the country are exceptionally awe-inspiring. Here, the most spectacular vantage points in the U.S. to watch the sun set.
GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is breathtaking any time of day, but golden hour will leave you speechless. For unobstructed views, check out popular Hopi Point, where ancient red limestone turns an even brighter hue as the sun descends behind the canyon wall. After the show, head to the McKee Amphitheater for a nature talk by one of the park rangers.
MAUNA KEA, HAWAII
As if a trip to paradise weren’t dreamy enough, a drive up to Hawaii’s highest peak will reward you with mind-blowing sunsets seen from above the clouds. This Big Island viewing platform is also home to numerous astronomical observatories—don’t miss the free stargazing tours that depart from the visitor center every evening.
OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA
The East Coast may be better known for its sunrises, but this ultra charming (it is the south, after all) ribbon of islands is what sunset dreams are made of. Head to one of the many secluded beaches, set your chair westward and take in the radiant, blood-orange skies while the waves lap at your feet.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA
Every evening, locals and visitors gather at Mallory Square two hours before the sun descends into the Gulf of Mexico for an evening festival filled with music, food and performance. Where the party goes after that is up to you. (We have a feeling you might even catch the sunrise.)
BAYOU COUNTRY, LOUISIANA
Watch the murky waters of the Bayou transform into a sea of rose pink as the sun dips behind the marshes. Plenty of boat tours will give you a front seat to this colorful spectacle, although catching the scene on the Mississippi River in NOLA isn’t too shabby, either.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA
Snowcapped peaks, shimmering waters, coniferous forests and lush meadows—if you want to feel at one with nature, look no further than this vast park in Montana’s northwest corner. Especially when nighttime falls and the sun glides over the Rocky Mountains. Hey, they don’t call it Big Sky Country for nothing.
LAGUNA BEACH, CALIFORNIA
An hour south of L.A., this pretty coastal town (of L.C., Kristin and Lo fame) features drop-dead-gorgeous sunsets along its stretch of golden sands, with significantly fewer lights or distractions than the City of Angels. Top tip: Every Friday in May and September, the city hosts a Sunset Serenade concert series from 5:30 p.m. until sunset.
Proving that sandy shores and palm trees aren’t prerequisites for a magical, um, magic hour, there are plenty of reasons to add the largest city of the Last Frontier to your bucket list, including dramatic mountain views, the freshest salmon you’ll ever eat and gorgeous skies. We recommend enjoying them all simultaneously.