Sometimes all it takes is an amazing sunset to stop you in your tracks and remind you just how beautiful the world really is. Consider this your red (and yellow) light to slow down and enjoy the view. We’ve got a list of spots where you can be a spectator to some of the most spectacular sunsets our area has to offer. Whether you’re in D.C., Virginia or Maryland, when the sun melts across the sky in shades of red, orange, pink and gold, here are the best places to catch nature’s most beautiful light show.
Photo: Hernán Piñera via Flickr
The Steps of the U.S. Capitol
Photographers know the best vantage point for capturing beauty, and the sun setting over Washington, D.C. is no exception. From the steps of the U.S Capitol you can watch the sun spread across the sky behind the Washington Monument in a breathtaking display of color. This is probably one of the most photographed sunset views in the world.
East Capitol St., NE & First St., SE
Rise above D.C.’s streets and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the sunset from the Point of View (POV) Terrace at W Hotel. You’ll see the National Mall and the White House in the foreground, as well as planes landing at Reagan National Airport in the distance, all amidst the colorful swirl of sun spilling across the sky.
From this site on the southern end of the National Mall you can sit on a park bench at any season of the year and watch a gorgeous sunset. From the northern side, close to the Washington Monument, you’ll see the white-domed granite of the Jefferson Memorial, which turns all shades of breathtaking pink as the sun sets behind it. This, coupled with a picture-perfect reflection in the still waters of the Tidal Basin makes for an unforgettable sunset view.
900 Ohio Dr., SW (National Mall)
This 10-acre park located directly across the river from Roosevelt Island, curves along the Potomac River shoreline from 30th to 34th Street NW and features views of the Key Bridge, Kennedy Center and Memorial Bridge. In the summer, kids can splash in spray fountains while you watch shore birds and row boats on the river. It’s the perfect setting for a pastel sunset sky.
The Point Overlook in Shenandoah National Park
If there’s a place where seeing the sunset could change your entire world view, it might just be from The Point overlook in Shenandoah National Park. This west-facing spot at mile 55.5 on Skyline Drive is located just a few miles south of Big Meadows Lodge. From the overlook, hike a short trail down about 100 feet to a rocky area and from here you’ll see the magic happen.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Grab a blanket and pick a comfortable spot on the rolling green lawn in front of George Washington’s Mount Vernon for a stunning view of the sun mixing with the clouds above the Potomac River. To make it even more spectacular, if you go in October, you can enjoy live blues music while you sip and swirl top notch wines at the Fall Wine and Sunset Tour
Old Town Alexandria Waterfront
An evening stroll along Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront offers some breathtaking sunset views with the lights of National Harbor across the water in the distance. The bustling streets of Old Town provide all the shopping and dining you could want, along with quaint cobblestone streets, 18th and 19th century architecture, and tons of meaningful history. The Alexandria trolley is there to cart you around, so you can make a full day of it with shopping, dinner, and a waterfront sunset stroll.
1 Prince St. (Alexandria, Va)
Fort Hunt Park
River shores, open spaces, and a clear view of the wide sky, Fort Hunt Park offers everything you need for a stunning sunset view. The park is located just two miles from Mount Vernon and serves as a local favorite for picnics and recreation. In the summer months, you can enjoy live music on Sunday evenings at Pavilion A from 7pm – 8pm. A dinner picnic, evening concert, and summer sunset makes for a perfect evening.
Summit of Sugarloaf Mountain
At an elevation of more than 1200 feet, from the summit of Sugarloaf you’ll stand high above a sweeping view of Maryland’s scenic farmland. This is a view you might have to work for with a slightly challenging hike, but the payoff is well worth the huff and puff of the climb.
National Harbor Waterfront
Even without a sunset, the National Harbor Waterfront offers a beautiful setting and year-round line-up of amazing attractions. Add the colorful sun setting across the sky and you have a view worthy of Monet or Van Gogh. In the summer months, you can take advantage of group sunset swims in the river every Sunday and Wednesday evening. Throw in an ice skating show at Gaylord, or a spin on the Capitol Ferris Wheel where you’ll soar 180 feet above the Potomac River for incomparable views of area landmarks. Regardless, you’ll be making sunset memories of a lifetime.
Terrapin Beach Park
This award-winning 276-acre nature park has a 3-mile walking trail that winds you through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds, woodlands and sandy beaches where you’ll have unique opportunities to see a variety of waterfowl and wildlife. Park yourself somewhere along the beachfront boardwalk for a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge beneath a sky on fire with the setting sun.
Where do you watch the sun set? Tell us in the comments below.