Berkeley Bay View Point
This spot off of Centennial Drive is located just below the 2,079 acre Tilden Regional Park, which sits on a hill above the East Bay and is popular with bikers, hikers and swimmers. But as the day ends, the crowds die down–the perfect time to take in the sunset over the bay. Berkeley Bay View Point, next to the Lawrence Hall of Science is a convenient spot to watch the sunset from your car. Take in the colorful sky while enjoying a stunning view of the bay and the twinkling lights of the East Bay and San Francisco, all from the parking lot.
Mount Tamalpais, East Peak
Hiking Mount Tamalpais’ highest point, East Peak, is truly a journey to cloud nine. The peak is situated above the clouds, so even when it’s a typically grey day in the city, the view of the sun setting over a sea of clouds is a sight to behold. The paved Verna Dunshee Trail is easily accessible by car, with an $8 parking lot and amenities located right at the trailhead. The 0.7 mile loop provides a panorama of the Bay Area at dusk, though be cautious as it gets dark, as the trail is narrow and steep in parts.
Batteries to Bluffs Trail
The Presidio’s scenic Batteries to Bluffs trail loops around historic turn of the 20th century batteries, with ocean waves crashing below and the Golden Gate Bridge towering above. The trail is easily accessible, with two parking lots, one off off Lincoln Boulevard and one off off Merchant Road. Hike down from either lot through the batteries and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and the cliffs of the Marin Headlands at any point along the 0.7 mile trail.
While most tourists flock to the famous lighthouse, the jagged bluffs of Point Reyes’ Limantour Beach are a less crowded natural wonderland perfect for sunset views. The water of Drakes Bay becomes a fiery orange at the day’s end as it reflects the sky above it. Make the short trek from the parking lot to the sandy beach and lay out a blanket on the sand to marvel at the radiant sky.
Today, tourists and locals alike wander through the ruins of Sutro Baths, the site of what was once a lavish public bathhouse. Hike down the stairs from the parking lot through the labyrinth of concrete ruins as the sun begins to get low in the sky. Carefully walk along the narrow ruins to the idyllic beach, and set out a blanket in the crowd. Watch the sun kiss the Pacific waves and the shadows of the rock against the orange sky, all while sinking your toes in the sand.
With a maximum elevation of over 920 feet, these two hills situated in the center of San Francisco are ideal for watching the sun set over the city skyline. Take the windy Twin Peaks Boulevard up to the 64-acre park, where you’ll have a good view anywhere along the road where you can find a parking spot. Even on a day when Karl the Fog rolls in, it is usually below the peak, so it can be just as magical to watch it slowly blanket the city. Because of its high elevation, Twin Peaks is almost always windy and cold, so dress appropriately.
Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands
There’s no better place to take in the breathtaking sunset and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge than the highest point of the Marin Headlands: Hawk Hill. Watch the sun set over the cliffs on the Pacific and light up the sky an orange as brilliant as the bridge’s paint coat. Drive past the hordes of tourists at the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point and continue cautiously on the extremely windy Conzelman Road past the traffic circle. It is a popular sunset spot with tourists and you will likely have to wait for a parking spot, but the good news is that the view can be seen right from the road as you wait in traffic.