By Lisa Kestenbaum
When it comes to sunsets, Southern California boasts some of the best. From the peaks of the Palisades to the dunes of Dana Point, there are countless places to catch the last bits of light. But what’s better than gazing at the glow of the setting sun than doing it with your special someone? Here, we’ve curated a list of locations that we not only consider fantastic for sunset viewing, but some of the most romantic, too. So as we inch closer to Valentine’s Day, pick your destination and dash out with your darling to one of these top spots.
One of Santa Barbara’s few west-facing strands, Butterfly Beach beckons locals and lovers to its shore. Nestled in front of the luxurious Four Seasons Biltmore hotel, this narrow strip of beach offers the perfect spot to wind down after a day in the waves or spent wandering through this sleepy Southern California town. Or better yet, make one of the many tasting rooms in Santa Barbara an afternoon stop before you settle in with your toes in the sand and hands intertwined. And don’t worry about it being too crowded – while most of the area’s beaches are full of families and tourists, Butterfly Beach remains small and intimate.
Walk a little south of the parking lot and through the trees at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego and you’ll discover a large opening. Find a seat built into the land here and watch the sun descend over surfers and the expansive ocean. If you choose to crawl down through the cliffs, you’ll pass other love-struck couples looking to steal kisses between glimpses of the breathtaking views. While the area spans 1.5 miles of coastline, you’ll easily find somewhere secluded to cozy up to your sweetheart and bask in the glow of this colorful seascape.
With more than its fair share of hikes, Los Angeles packs plenty of top-notch viewing spots. But one in particular attracts Angelenos for its people-watching and its spectacular views. Runyon Canyon, a trail that climbs up through the Hollywood Hills, boasts one of the best spots to catch the sun going down over the City of Angels. There are many different ways to tackle this trail, but all will lead you to a sprawling view of twinkling city lights, from Downtown all the way to the ocean. Perfect for an active date, you’ll work up a sweat and give your hearts something more to beat about as you enjoy the quiet and calm away from the city, even though you’re right in the heart of it.
You’ll find the Rooftop Restaurant in Laguna Beach tucked behind La Casa Del Camino Hotel on Pacific Coast Highway. What you’ll see when you arrive there is a 360-degree view of the beach and the perfect spot to cuddle up and slow down with your special someone. Order your beverage of choice and a few small bites and sit back while the sun dips below the horizon. With ambient music playing and the waves crashing, you won’t risk feeling rushed, although there are bound to be many other couples vying for your table (and maybe your date!).
Sweep your sweetheart off her feet with an authentic Venetian cruise right in Ventura County. Gondola Paradiso at Seabridge Marina offers an unparalleled romantic experience, as you drift through Channel Islands Harbor and the Coral Island canals. You’ll catch glimpses of the sunset and feel as if you are transported to Italy when the sound of your gondolier’s sweet serenade fills the night sky. Pack a picnic full of favorite foods, a bottle of wine and and enjoy this magical and charming ride.
Palm Springs is virtually synonymous with sun – whether you enjoy working on your tan or a Sunday brunch on a mist-filled outdoor patio, it’s hard to beat the heat in this desert town. But when the fire in the sky finally starts to settle, there’s no place you’d rather be than Joshua Tree National Park. Drive 45-minutes outside of Palm Springs and you’ll find yourself surrounded by stunning rock formations, the area’s namesake, Joshua Trees, and once the sun goes down, vivid and colorful sunsets. Amidst the quiet and calm of the desert, you’ll immediately feel connected to your special someone. Breathe in the colors of the sun as it plunges into the earth and canvases the sky with brilliant pinks and purples. Bring a tent and some sleeping bags (or just one … wink wink!) and settle in for the night under a blanket of stars.