Sunsets are Instagram gold — even the most seasoned photographers know that when they snap a pretty sunset, likes and comments go through the roof. It seems superficial, but there’s more to it than aesthetic appeal: Taking in the world’s natural beauty is proven to make you feel less stressed and more mindful. Some psychologists even think that we are hard-wired to appreciate the setting sun because it was these last rays of light that helped our ancestors make it home after a day of hunting and gathering.
Whatever the case, watching a sunset is a small (and free!) luxury we rarely afford ourselves, like stopping to smell the flowers or skipping a party to watch reruns of Grey’s Anatomy (the early years, of course). That’s why we honed in on five places you can easily get to that are ideally primed to deliver front-row access to the magic. Just don’t let your smartphone steal the show. Take your shot, then unplug and bask in the glory.
1. The Montage, Laguna Beach, CA: When it comes to sunsets, there is no denying the West does it best — science confirms it. At Montage, the plush Sunset Suite faces the water, so you don’t even have to leave your bed to catch the action. If you can’t splurge for a premium room, Treasure Island Park, right below the hotel, is kept up by the same staff that does the inn’s dreamy landscaping, has sweeping views that extend all the way to Catalina Island on a clear day, and is open to the public.
2. Goblin Valley State Park, Green River, UT: Utah leads the world in number of Dark Sky Parks (AKA areas that officially restrict artificial light pollution). Goblin Valley, named for the sandstone monuments that look like whimsical creatures, is also known for its top-notch stargazing. After the sky lights up the dramatic rock formations with its shades of pastel pink and blue, stick around to see clear constellations and shooting stars. The park is open until 10pm and has campsites if you want to stay the night.
3. Everglades National Park, FL: Florida has heavenly panoramas all around its western shores. Key West is known for its nightly sunset parties on Mallory Square, and South Walton has those turquoise waters that shimmer under the rays. But to avoid the crowds and see a different side of the Sunshine State, stick to Everglades National Park. In this 1.5 million-acre ecological preserve, rivers of grass, mangroves, and swampland filled with rare birds and critters stretch out into the sea. As the day ends, head to Pahayokee Boardwalk, a wooden path with a raised platform, or the seven-mile Long Pine Key Trail.
4. Grand Hotel Marriott, Point Clear, AL: People travel to this 1847 resort just for the early evening views. The property, which is undergoing a $32 million renovation this year, is stunning, and the town has all the Southern charm you could want. But the way light dances across the moss-covered live oaks and tranquil Mobile Bay is unmatched. Snag one of the loaner bikes from the concierge, and ride it to the Grand Hotel’s private fishing pier that juts out over the water.
5. Trail Ridge Road, Estes Park, CO: John Denver wasn’t lying when he wrote about seeing it rain fire in the sky in “Rocky Mountain High.” Although the tall peaks mean the sun dips out of the sky a bit earlier, the elevation also gets you closer to the sun, so the colors shine brighter and clearer in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Up on Trail Ridge Road, near the 11,796-feet high Alpine Visitor Center, there’s a wide tundra that’s just-right for a sunset pit stop. If you’re lucky, you may even get an elk grazing against the fiery backdrop for the money shot.
Where’s your favorite place to see the sunset? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via @utahstateparksandrec)