San Francisco-based social media has been lighting up as of late with some truly spectacular sunsets—which, along with a few recent hot days, is helping stretch the feel of lazy summer days well into fall. And, indeed, it’s hard not to humblebrag about the end-of-day showstoppers we get around here, which turn the sky into a stunning palette of oranges, reds, pinks, and purples and bathe everything in those delicious long-ray hues.
Here, our recommendations for the best places to see the sunset in SF. As that brilliant orange sphere dips below the horizon and the city lights behind to twinkle, just try not to marvel, yet again, how lucky you are to live here.
1. Land’s End
How fitting is it to take in the end of the day from the end of the land? This gorgeous in-town hike, popular with both locals and tourists, is just the spot to watch the sun dip into the Pacific, with its hillsides full of cypress, waves crashing on the rocks below, and the Golden Gate Bridge stretching out against Technicolor sky. Another bonus? Many of the tourists who flock to Land’s End during the way will have thinned out. But be sure to stay on the designated trail—in recent months, a couple of unfortunate hikers have required a rescue after becoming stranded on some of the rocky outcroppings.
2. Bernal Heights
The 443-foot hill that towers over this quirky neighborhood in southern end of San Francisco is popular with dog walkers, joggers, and anyone who appreciates the magic of a spectacular sunset. Take in the setting sun, the twinkling city skyline, and the imposing silhouette of Sutro tower from the north-facing sidewalk along Bernal Heights Boulevard—which is and even more breathtaking from a short hike to the top of the hill.
3. Windy Hill Open Space Preserve
In the South Bay, there’s no better spot to soak up 360-degree views of the setting sun than at this huge regional park, which offers more than 12 miles of trails on 1,308 acres of forest and grassland. Head up the 0.7-mile Anniversary Trail to the summit of Windy Hill, you can soak up panoramic views of the setting sun. On a clear day, it illuminates the entire landscape, as the nature preserve is nestled right between the Pacific Ocean and Silicon Valley. It’s a popular spot for hang-gliders and kite-flyers, too. But be sure to bring some warm layers, as the scenic spot is as blustery as its name implies.
4. The Cliff House
Sometimes (ok, many times) a sunset becomes far more memorable with a drink in hand—and without the foggy, blustery San Francisco weather making you wish it would hurry up and set already so you can go somewhere warmer. Check both of those boxes at The Cliff House, a favorite spot for sun(set) seekers. There are actually two restaurants in this historic building, which overlooks Ocean Beach and the Sutro Baths: Sutro’s and the Bistro, the latter of which is the more casual. Tourists love the spot and pricey food can be hit-or-miss, but the clam chowder is usually solid, the signature popovers are divine, and the floor-to-ceiling ocean views are unbeatable. Add an Anchor Steam or glass of California vino to the mix, and you’ve got the recipe for a smashing sunset viewing.
5. Hawk Hill
The crowds of photo-snapping folks who gather at the various overlooks on the way up Hawk Hill, also a popular spot for cyclists, are evidence of the postcard-worthy views of the Golden Gate Bridge and city skyline. But it’s equally stunning—and more serene—when the sun begins to dip and saturate the whole scene in a rich palette of oranges, reds, and pinks, with hawks soaring above that add to the majesty of it all. Grab a blanket or your camping chairs and pick a spot on one of the many trails around the west-facing side of the hill for the most unfettered views. (Keep in mind that the pedestrian and bike lanes to the bridge close at sunset, so this one might warrant driving.)
6. Marin Beach Overlook
There’s perhaps no more dramatic spot to soak up the sunset than this Marin headlands stunner, which is about three miles from Muir Woods. The dirt trail to the end of the overlook might not be ideal for anyone with a fear of heights—even with guardrails, there’s a stomach-churning drop-off in all directions. But the breathtaking views, which include Mt. Tam, Muir Beach below, and, on a clear day, the Farallon Islands, make any uneasiness worth it. And, later in the winter, there’s another reason to visit than just the stunning sunsets: You may also catch a glimpse of whales during their migrations.
7. Angel Island
Views of the sunset are even more epic when you’re enjoying them from your Angel Island campsite after the hordes of tourists and day trippers have gone home from this popular daytime hiking spot. Reservations are hard to come by, especially on weekends, but taking in the Golden Gate Bridge silhouetted against the spectacularly setting sun from this rugged little island in the middle of the bay is downright heavenly.