Mountaintops & beaches host New England's top 10 sunset views
With its mountain peaks and ridges overlooking miles of mountain ranges and its beautifully curving beaches, New England is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets you will see anywhere. Check this list of top 10 sunsets in New England and plan a time to enjoy this simple pleasure. Take a camera, of course.
Maine -- Blue Hill Overlook on Cadillac Mountain
in Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor, ME
Acadia Bar Harbor region
At 1,530 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain in Acadia National Park and the Eastern Seaboard. Rising high above the town of Bar Harbor in Acadia National Park
, Cadillac Mountain offers magnificent views of the Porcupine Islands and Frenchman Bay. Sunset is magnificent, as is sunrise. The most popular viewing spot in Blue Hill Overlook, at the end of Cadillac Mountain (or Cadillac Summit) Road. This road can be reached off the Park Loop Road within the national park. The road offers one magnificent view after another.
Explore the summit of this granite mountain along a 0.3-mile trail, which includes wayside exhibits about natural and human history. There are several small observation points along the way that offer prime viewing opportunities. The road is closed from December 1 through April 14 and whenever weather conditions require.
Maine -- Portland Head Lighthouse at Fort Williams Park
Cape Elizabeth, ME
Greater Portland region
Located along the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park, Portland Head Lighthouse and its surrounding property are managed by the Town of Cape Elizabeth. Today, Fort Williams is still one of the most treasured sites of Cape Elizabeth, a place of recreation, leisure time enjoyment, and wonderful views of the lighthouse, the Ram Island Ledge Light, and the islands of Casco Bay. With nearly a million visitors a year, the park offers playing fields, tennis courts, beach, or simply great walks and vistas. The Museum at Portland Head Light is contained within the former Keepers’ Quarters. The museum contains a number of lighthouse lenses and interpretative displays. The park is open year-round, sunrise to sunset.
Maine -- Sebago Lake, Casco
Western Lakes region
Near the foothills of the While Mountains, Sebago Lake State Park is a forested park on a beautiful lake that provides recreation year-round. The 1,400-acres park has sandy beaches, extensive woodlands, ponds, bogs a river and diverse habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal life. An easy-to-moderate trail winds through the park to the Bay of Naples, and among elevated locations to see the sunset, and it is also very beautiful from a vantage point right on the shore.
Massachusetts -- Blue Hills Skyline Trail
on the Blue Hills Reservation
North Randolph, MA
Stretching from Dedham to Quincy, Milton to Randolph, the Blue Hills Reservation encompasses over 7000 acres, providing the largest open space within 35 miles of Boston. More than 125 miles of trails weave among the forest and ponds, hilltops and wetlands. Hikers can count 22 hills in the Blue Hills chain with Great Blue Hill as the highest landmark at 635 feet above sea level. Views of the skyline of Boston, with spectacular colors at sunset, are particularly excellent from the aptly named Skyline Trail. To get there: From Boston, take I-93 south. Continue past the intersection with Route 3, and take exit 5. Take right at the end of ramp on Route 28 North. Parking lot is the second one on the left. The Skyline Trail is moderately difficult. It is blazed with blue markings. 617-698-1802.
Massachusetts -- Boat Meadow Beach
Cape Cod region
This serene beach facing onto Cape Cod Bay is part of the Town of Eastham, which is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches on Cape Cod. The flats of the bayside beaches can stretch a mile out at low tide, exposing a colorful variety of marine life. Sunsets from this north-westward facing beach are beuatiful. Parking fees apply at all town beaches during the summer. 508-240-5976.
Massachusetts -- Gay Head Cliffs and Lighthouse
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket region
The marvelous Gay Head (or Aquinnah) Cliffs is a wonderful place to watch the sunset, but people may not walk on the cliffs, which are extremely fragile. One vantage point is the Gay Head Lighthouse, at 9 Aquinnah Circle, where you can watch the sun move across this entire scene with water on three sides of you. The lighthouse building and property are is open seasonally. In season, the lighthouse is open to the public from 4:30-8:30 p.m. nightly. Parking is available, but limited, on Aquinnah Circle. The Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) buses have routes to the lighthouse. For folks who are not inclined to climb up to the top of the lighthouse, there is a lovely lawn in front of the lighthouse – perfect to place a chair or blanket, sit down and enjoy. If you visit when the lighthouse is closed, there is an overlook on Aquinnah Circle a short walk from the lighthouse.
Massachusetts -- Herring Cove Beach
Cape Cod region
A quick look at a map of Cape Cod demonstrates why Herring Cove beach, in Provincetown and part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, is one of the best sunset-watching beaches in New England. Because of the extreme curve of Cape Cod, this beach, at the very tip, faces west across Cape Cod Bay. The beach, which is one mile from town, has beautiful sand, gentle surf for swimming, opportunities for spotting whales in the distance, ample facilities, and great sunsets. Dune hiking and picnicking are a favorite pastime of local people and visitors, and while it’s an adventurous activity, the incredible vistas are worth the efforts. Perhaps the best and cheapest way to end the day in Provincetown is to catch a breathtaking sunset at Herring Cove Beach for free.
Massachusetts -- Menemsha Public Beach
Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket region
Menemsha is a delightful small working harbor in a village facing Vineyard Sound within the town of Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard. The harbor has plenty of boating action to enjoy. Menemsha Public Beach is gentle beach with the clear, bright water. Lots of people gather daily to enjoy the sunset at this convivial beach. Like the Gay Head Cliffs, getting to Menemsha involves a bit of a drive down rural roads, often where folks get a glimpse of Island life away from the bustling port towns. Menemsha is home to the renown takeout joint called The Bite, and Larsen’s and the Menemsha Fish Markets are open all day. Vineyarders often pack a beach blanket, a bottle of wine, stop at one of the above, and set up a sunset picnic.
Massachusetts -- Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway
North Adams, MA
Western Massachusetts and Berkshires
The scenic Mohawk Trail of Massachusetts’s western Berkshires region, from Greenfield to Williamstown, follows a path used by the Indian tribe of the same name. Parts of this historic path still exist, following Route 2, with attractions ranging from old pilgrim churches to the one-of-a-kind Bridge of Flowers. From the summit of the Mohawk, travelers can see several mountain ranges in four states, rivers, lakes, villages and cities, in one sweeping panorama. One point of interest on the trail is the Hairpin Turn, where the trail rises sharply to the Western Summit. At that spot, near the Golden Eagle restaurant, is an observation point with excellent views of mountainous portions of southern Vermont and northwestern Massachusetts, including Mount Greylock, Mount Prospect and Mount Williams. Mountain-rimmed sunsets here are memorably beautiful.
New Hampshire -- Cathedral Ledge Road
White Mountains region
From the North Conway-Bartlett section of West Side Road. Park at the top and walk out onto the ledge to see all of Mt. Washington Valley before you. This is one of those rare scenic overlooks that you can drive to!
New Hampshire -- Echo Lake State Park to Cathedral Ledge
White Mountains region
Echo Lake State Park
is a great place to take the family for a swim and picnic and direct access by car or my foot to the top of Cathedral Ledge, with magnificent views and sunsets. A scenic foot trail around the lake provides great views of sheer, 700-foot Cathedral Ledge, which towers over the lake. A mile-long auto road and hiking trails lead to the top of Cathedral Ledge where views across the Saco River Valley to the White Mountains are immense. For the fearless, both Cathedral and nearby White Horse ledges are popular rock and ice climbing walls.
New Hampshire -- Jenness State Beach
Jenness State Beach
on Route 1A in Rye is a great family location with an Atlantic ocean-front setting - its sandy beach is ideal for swimming and picnicking. Amenities at the beach include a bathhouse. Metered parking is available for 67 cars. Parking meters are located along Route 1A and accept quarters. Plan a day visit or just show up for sunset, over the ocean, which is wonderful from this location. 603-436-1552
New Hampshire -- Lake Winnipesaukee
and Ellacoya State Park
Moultonborough, Gilford, NH
Lake Winnipesaukee and the region around it is so vast and majestic, it would be hard to find a bad place to see the sunset. Even so, here are a few A-list suggestions. Castle in the Clouds
, a mansion in Moultonborough that is open for public visits, has a patio with magnificent views. You could barely do better than this. Live entertainment some evenings. If you are with children or adults who want to stay casual, plan to watch the sunset from Ellacoya State Park
in Gilford on Lake Winnipesaukee. The long sandy beach has views of the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains, is just right for family activity and kicking back at sunset.
Rhode Island -- Boat Basin of WaterPlace Park
Francis Street and Memorial Blvd.
Providence Warwick region
WaterPlace Park, which runs directly through the center of downtown Providence, is like a city canal, with delightful walks along both sides of the rive, ornate foot bridges, and interesting 360-degree vistas of the restored and contemporary architecture of this historic small city. At one end of the park is a basin, tucked below the looming Providence Place Mall, where amphitheater-type steps allow lots of seating looking down onto the boat basin. (With live theatrical performances in nice weather.) Plenty of delightful restaurants are visible and easy walking distance from the boat basin. It’s a neat place to enjoy the sun set over the mild bustle of a handsome small city.
Rhode Island -- Brenton Point State Park
Occupying the former grounds of one of Newport's grandest estates, Breton Point State Park
affords its visitors one of the most commanding and spectacular views on the East Coast. The park is located at the point of land where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic, midway along the beautiful Ocean Drive. Distant views of Jamestown Island’s Beavertail Point, sailboats, surfers, and waves breaking on rocky outcroppings enhance the glorious sunsets. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, hiking, fishing, or just relaxing with the cool breezes and majestic views of the Atlantic. The park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.
Rhode Island -- Napatree Point, Watch Hill
South County region
A skinny finger of land stretches a half-mile into Fisher’s Island Sound from the Watch Hill section of Westerly, both with delightful downtown hubs offering dining and shopping before or after your sunset walk (although Watch Hill goes mostly dark in the winter). Napatree Point is a favorite spot for hikers and bird watchers, and provides year-round habitat for a variety of species. The Watch Hill Lighthouse is visible at the far end of the cove, to the east. The Napatree Point itself is untouched by roads and lights and disturbances that could affect a wonderful sunset-viewing. At the landward end of the point is the beautiful Ocean House, a restored grand hotel of the 19th century.
Vermont -- Lake Champlain
at Burlington, VT
Lake Champlain, the magnificent and historic lake that forms the northern border of Vermont and New York, is a pristine water playground for all manner of water diversions (including searching for maritime wrecks – this was a major travel artery for many hundreds of years). As expert on Vermont travel named two prime spots for viewing the sunset westward across this beautiful lake. One is Splash at the Boathouse on College Street on the Burlington waterfront. Also the city has its own Burlington Waterfront Park, and it does a great job of hosting fun public events there.
Vermont -- Mount Mansfield and the Long Trail
via Underhill State Park
Underhill State Park
is within Vermont's 34,000-acre Mount Mansfield State Forest. The park lies on the west slope of Mount Mansfield, the state's highest peak. The park is probably best known for its hiking. Four trails in the park reach the summit ridge of Mount Mansfield. From the gated road from the park headquarters, the trails begin branching off shortly above the group camp area. The Sunset Ridge Trail, 3 miles to the summit, is the most popular. Vermont’s Long Trail traverses the summit ridge and, with several trails from the other side of the mountain, many loops are possible. Views of surrounding mountains, New Hampshire, New York, and Canada are spectacular, as are the sunsets.
Vermont -- Skyline Drive to Mount Equinox
Off Route 7A
At 3,848 feet above sea level, the summit of Mount Equinox
offers breathtaking sunsets and panoramic views of the Green, White, Adirondack, Berkshire and Taconic mountain ranges. Several paved parking areas provide spectacular views, but most outstanding is the Skyline Drive itself as you drive along the crest of the mountain on your way to the summit. The Green Mountains, The Valley of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire may be seen to the east. The Adirondack Mountains of New York provide the backdrop to the west, and the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts to the south.
Begin your adventure at the Toll House on Historic Route 7A in Sunderland at an elevation of 800 feet. As Skyline Drive winds up the mountain, it provides panoramic views of lakes, rivers and valley communities below. There are many vistas and areas for picnics along the 5.2 mile drive. The serenity and beauty of the world famous Battenkill River may be seen meandering through towns, farms, and woodlands below. The view of sunset from the summit is truly breathtaking. There is a fee to use this toll road.
Vermont -- Sunset Rock off the Long Trail, Mount Abraham
near Warren, VT
The Mad River Valley segment of Central Vermont includes Mount Abraham, with good day hikes to dramatic lookout points. Among them is Sunset Rock, off the Long Trail. Trail. This is a fairly easy climb of about one hour, round-trip. Elevation gain is 500 feet over a trail of 1.5 miles. From Route 100, just south of the village of Warren, drive west up the Lincoln Gap Road. Park at the top of Lincoln Gap and follow the Long Trail south. The trail climbs steeply at first then gently up and down before opening abruptly onto Sunset Ledge. Wonderful views to the west toward Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Connecticut--Mount Tom from Sunset Meadow Vineyard
In the northwestern corner of Connecticut – the serenely beautiful Litchfield region – two factors sometimes combine to help create wonderful sunsets: rolling mountains and flatland vineyards. The Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen is aptly named. Its westward-facing patio and Vista Room are positioned perfectly to enjoy golden sunsets over Mohawk Mountain and Mount Tom. The tasting room is open year-round, and the vineyard operators allow people to bring a picnic or snacks to the winery when they make a wine purchase from the vineyard.
Connecticut--Tip of Stonington Village
Stonington Village, a little east of Mystic, is a small peninsula that juts into Long Island Sound, surrounded by views of boats under sail or at their moorings, distant islands, and jetties. At the tip of the village is the Stonington Lighthouse and Museum, fronted by a lawn and an antique cannon. It is a marvelous and cozy place to watch the sunset paint and re-paint the waters, boats, and old clapboard houses as seabirds swoop and settle in for the night. Right near the end of the peninsula are good seafood restaurants, where you can watch the arrival of night on a deck, with a cool drink in hand.