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Terranea Resort Sunset
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Picture-Perfect Sunrise and Sunset Locations

Summer is the perfect time for photographers to capture shots of the Golden State – the days are longer, the water is warmer, and the sunrises and sunsets feel brighter. Here are some of the best spots to snap a photo in California that feel more than picture-perfect.

Waterfront Sunset Sights

Jutting out 1,850 feet into the Pacific Ocean, the iconic Huntington Beach Pier is one of the longest concrete piers on the West Coast. This structure symbolizes the heart of Huntington Beach as “Surf City USA,” and offers breathtaking views alongside the sounds of crashing waves, swaying palm trees and a seemingly endless horizon. It was made for picture-perfect year-round sunsets and capturing photos as the sun sinks quietly below the horizon.

One of the best spots for photography in Ventura is on the Ventura Pier, where, if visitors wait long enough, they can capture both a sunrise over mountains and a sunset over islands. On Anacapa Island, just a short boat ride from Ventura, there is no better place to photograph the sunset than aptly named “Inspiration Point,” from which it appears as if colorful paint has been spilled into the heavens. 

Natural Bridges State Beach is undoubtedly one of Santa Cruz County’s best spots to watch the sunset. A natural sandstone arch — 40 feet long and 25 feet tall — boasts a 15-foot wide cutaway, through which photographer’s can fantastically frame the pink and orange sky as the sun descends over the horizon. This beach sits at the end of scenic West Cliff Drive, providing an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, seals and otters. 

Hotels with a Vibrant View 

At Terranea Resort, a luxurious destination resort in Southern California, the property’s angle above coastal bluffs enables guests to see the sun both rise and set over the Pacific. Terranea is celebrated for its natural beauty, and its 102 acres of space provides visitors with a front-row seat to magnificent wildlife, including dolphins, sea lions and whales.

Suspended over the waves of Monterey Bay, Schooners Monterey offers an idyllic setting to view the sunrise on the coast of California. Located at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, the window-covered restaurant has a waterfront terrace that provides a welcoming and lively atmosphere for travelers and locals alike to gather at sundown. Those who spend the night can watch the light fade from their balconies over the bay. 

In San Diego, the historic La Valencia Hotel – nicknamed the "Pink Lady" – is practically synonymous with La Jolla's glittering coastline. From its perch over the famed La Jolla Cove, hotel guests can enjoy unobstructed, photo-worthy views from nearly all 114 rooms and suites, as well as the on-site eatery, La Sala Bar, and the newly transformed signature restaurant, the Mediterranean Room. 

Out on the Water

With hundreds of boats docked on one side of the path and a line of willow trees along with the other, the Benicia Marina is the perfect place to watch the sun go down on the water. The Marina is located along the waterfront between East Second and East Fifth streets and is an easy walk to and from the shopping, dining, spas, nightlife and visitor center on First Street.

Located along South Orange County’s extraordinary Coastal region, Dana Point offers photographers the perfect setting for photo ops from sunup to sundown. Some of the best spots include the harbor, Lantern Bay Park, and aboard a 63-foot luxury catamaran during a Dana Wharf Sunset Wine Cruise — the only sunset wine cruise in Orange County.

Shanutski Yacht is a one-of-a-kind experience in Sausalito that allows visitors to capture the most breathtaking photos with iconic Bay Area attractions as the backdrop. In addition to capturing postcard-worthy photographs, this spacious boat comes with an experienced captain and other amenities — it’s perfect for spending a day or evening out on the water.

Mountain Golden Hour Glow

Tuolumne County is made up of Yosemite, Gold Country and the High Sierra. It's a diverse destination with endless views, which are perfect for sunrise and sunset viewing. Visitors can drive to the Rim of the World Vista, located on the Tuolumne River on Highway 120, which opens up to a wide vista view of the surrounding terrain and hosts a top-notch sunset spot. 

North Lake Tahoe is home to some of the most gorgeous sunsets on the West Coast. Here, visitors can take in a stunning mountain backdrop contrasted by the crystal clear blue lake water. Some of the best places to view a North Lake Tahoe sunset include Tahoe City, Kings Beach and West Shore. The town is also home to a summer music series with evening concerts, which means attendees can enjoy their favorite music along with the view of a California sunset. 

Restaurants and Entertainment Venue Vistas

Offering views of the downtown San Diego skyline and the picturesque San Diego Bay, Garibaldi – the Intercontinental San Diego’s Sardinian-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar – is a striking location for snapping that Insta-worthy sunset photo. Guests can bask in golden hour at the restaurant’s rooftop dining room and enjoy views of Point Loma across the bay, with the Midway and cruise ships dotting the water and the twinkling skyline. 

Beach Chalet in San Francisco is located on the edge of Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, providing front-row seats to beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. This spot serves fresh and sustainable dishes alongside beers brewed on-site in this historical landmark building, featuring WPA Murals. Beach Chalet is currently the only Pacific Ocean-front restaurant in San Francisco — and it’s just across the street from Ocean Beach, making for a perfect sunset perch. 

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in San Diego is situated in a lush public park surrounded by water on three sides, which means it offers 360-degree views of downtown, the marina and San Diego Bay — creating a perfect backdrop for golden hour photos. The Rady Shell itself is also a striking venue, designed with coastal and waterfront elements in mind, featuring coral red seating, ocean blue glass and a white covering reminiscent of a seashell.