Picture-Perfect Sonoma County Sunset Spots
No matter where your travels may take you, the one sight that never gets old is an epic sunset — and after a day exploring the natural beauty of Sonoma County, a picture-perfect sunset in the land of vines and farmsteads is pretty easy to find.
Here’s a list of some of the more off-the-beaten-path, picture-perfect Sonoma County sunset spots that will have you grabbing your cameras and venturing forth on that hunt for golden hour.
One of the most endearing elements of Sonoma County is its endless side-of-the-road vistas. Pick nearly any street leading out of town and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by contoured hills overlooking idyllic valleys. One such route is Sonoma Mountain Road, a favorite with local stargazers, which leads up the western side of Sonoma Mountain itself.
Here one can enjoy miles of sunset viewing and gaze out over the sparkling lights of Petaluma, Pengrove, Cotati, and Rohnert Park as night falls. Better yet, spend the day exploring all Sonoma Mountain has to offer, from Jack London State Historic Park and wine tasting on the eastern side, before heading to the western slopes to enjoy that expansive sunset.
There is nothing in the world like a drive on Highway 1, and the stretch along the Sonoma County coast, from Bodega Bay in the south to Sea Ranch in the north, offers some of the best sea spray sunsets available.Stop and get snaps of the endless stretches of sand at Salmon Creek Beach, the craggy rock formations at Portuguese Beach, the marine wildlife at Goat Rock Beach, or the towering coastal cliffs on the way to Fort Ross.
Anywhere with Vines
It’s difficult not to take a stunning sunset photo when it comes to vineyard views. Whether you find yourself on the main wine country thoroughfares like Dry Creek Road, Westside Road, Highways 12 and 128, or on smaller backroads, vine-lined vistas reveal themselves at every turn. To catch some of the best sunsets, find a winery with a western-facing view, indulge in a glass, and get your camera out.
Depending on the time of year, experience the overlooks at Cast Wines or Sbragia Family Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, Kunde Family Winery in Sonoma Valley, or the Russian River Vineyards in the Russian River Valley for an unforgettable golden hour.
Get ready to go off that aforementioned beaten path! This one is a bit of a commitment, but if you’re already heading to Armstrong Redwoods, put it on your list. After exploring those gentle giants from the forest floor, drive just two-and-a-half miles up the hillside to reach the mountaintop meadows of Austin Creek State Recreation Area and Bullfrog Pond Campground.
Before descending into the campground, you’ll reach a summit with a trailhead and picnic area that’s perfect for viewing those last rays of the day.
Steamer Landing Park
If you’ve been looking for a rustic location with a modern twist for that golden hour photoshoot, you’ve just found it. Steamer Landing Park, situated on the Petaluma River near the D Street drawbridge, perfectly captures the essence of this Sonoma County river town: A historic rust-colored barn stands at attention as a nod to the past while colorful apartments across the river provide a chic modern background.
Perhaps it is for this reason that the rollicking steampunk Rivertown Revival festival makes its home here each year for a weekend in the summer. Just a short walk from downtown to the peninsular outcropping, Steamer’s Landing provides an ideal setting to begin a photo adventure or enjoy a golden hour picnic.
Written by Sonoma County Expert Sierra Downey.