The bright orange sky along the Sonoma Coast at sunset
Shell Beach, Sonoma Coast State Park

Amazing Sunsets in Sonoma County

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Sunsets in Northern California's wine country are simply amazing. As dusk settles in on a perfect evening, the Sonoma County skies open up in a sunset portrait of pinks, orange, gold, and shimmering bits of blue dotted with billowy white clouds. This time of day, there's little better in life than sitting back at a restaurant with a glass of wine, a bite to eat, and Mother Nature's masterpieces.

We can also savor sunsets at some wineries, sipping a glorious glass as the sun slips into the horizon.

River's End Restaurant & Inn, Jenner

The sun sets where the river meets the sea at Jenner
River's End Restaurant & Inn

Drive the winding coastal Highway 1, enjoying the ocean views. Then sit back in the bluff-top restaurant with its expansive windows overlooking the mouth of the Russian River where it enters the Pacific Ocean.

Sometimes, the water splashes with seals and whales, and there's usually a seagull show, too. Seasonal bites are as brilliant as the sun setting over the horizon – fresh-caught Wild King salmon grilled with asparagus and mustard, for example, plus seafood chowders, wasabi tobiko oysters, Petaluma duck confit egg rolls, and applewood smoked filet mignon topped in tangy Pt. Reyes bleu cheese.

Lucas Wharf, Bodega Bay

Everything tastes even better with the stunning sunset views across the Bay at this large, waterfront restaurant and bar. The ocean is right before your eyes, and the chef takes care with the fresh catch, for seasonal specialties like seared ahi with pesto crostini, a fried oyster sandwich, crab cakes, and the stellar seafood stew served steaming in a pot. Sipping glass of wine or cocktail in front of the huge windows is an extra slice of heaven.

Boat House, Bodega Bay

This tiny place is almost always packed, with lines spilling out the door, and customers can get downright territorial over the handful of tables inside and on the little porch overlooking the water. Boathouse owner Captain Rick Powers catches his own rock cod in the ocean right outside the seaside shanty's door, and drags his own crab pots for the crab cake sandwich.

You order at the counter, your food is sent out in a plastic basket lined with red-and-white checkered paper, and everything is really, really good, made to order by the nice men at the grill. Mouthwatering favorites include just-shucked oysters, fish –n- chips, thick and rich clam chowder, a local salmon burger, and fried prawns and scallops. At sunset, the water literally glitters gold and red, but in the longer days of summer, be sure to get there early since the place closes about 7 p.m.

Tides Wharf Restaurant, Bodega Bay

The sun sets on this restaurant on the bay
Tides Wharf Restaurant

The setting sun streams in through the windows, bathing everything in romantic light. Located by the Inn at the Tides, this waterfront restaurant knows its way around superb seafood. Fishermen pull their boats right up to the Tides Wharf to supply fresh, local seafood to fine restaurants and other markets in the Bay Area. So go to the local source for casual dining and clam chowder, oysters Florentine, crab cakes, Louie salad, hot or cold whole cracked crab, linguine with clams, a hot crab and cheese sandwich, or the Italian specialty, zesty cioppino. For land lovers, there are good burgers, steak and plenty of choices.

Drakes Sonoma Coast

People toast with glasses of wine as the sun sets, sitting around a firepit
Bodega Bay Lodge

The views from this special occasion spot inside the Bodega Bay Lodge are as delicious as the cuisine - they go on for miles, spanning across the water and to the dipping sun.

The high-end menu changes frequently, but stand-outs might include organic beet salad with fresh watercress, Laura Chenel chevre croquette, hazelnuts, and hazelnut-sherry vinaigrette; Dungeness crab cakes with tomato ginger chutney and smoked paprika aioli; or Bellwether Farms whole milk ricotta gnocchi with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, snap peas, organic tomatoes, shaved Estero Gold Reserve, and herb-vegetable sauce. For something more casual, relax in the Drakes Fireside Lounge next door.

Bluewater Bistro

From the large windows in the cozy bar, you can catch a gorgeous sunset while staying warm! You can also play spectacular sunset golf on the ocean-kissed course, then take the short, paved trail to Doran Beach for a front-row seat to Mother Nature's nightly show!

Quail Run Buffet at River Rock Casino

With spectacular 180-degree views of the beautiful Alexander Valley countryside, you can choose to watch either sunrise or sunset on the restaurant's outdoor patio. Located on the Dry Creek Rancheria of the Pomo tribe, the restaurant overlooks sweeping views of vineyards quilting their way to the river, along the valley's rugged mountain edge. Depending on the day and time, Quail Ridge offers a variety of full-course moderately-priced buffets - Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, and American.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville

The winery building is surrounded by vines
Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Grab a seat on the Rustic restaurant patio next to the tasting room, or on the lovely swimming pool patio of the winery. Then sit back as the sun sets over the rolling hills of the Alexander Valley, while you sip from a huge list of wines and perhaps add in an Italian style hors d'oeuvre or two. Often, there's live music, too.

Looking for a quiet, serene beach sunset? Find Sonoma Coast beaches and more info about hotels and restaurants along the Sonoma Coast.

Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.