When it comes to natural wonders, it’s hard to find much that compares to the majesty of a beautiful sunset. From the muted hues of red, orange and pink, to the quiet whisper of the sun dropping behind the horizon, it is one of the best things you can do outdoors. Especially, if you have just the right spot to watch from. And North Carolina is brimming with plenty of these picture-perfect locales.
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Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain - Pisgah National Forest (Nearby Hotels)
Hikers enjoying the Blue Ridge Parkway will want to make their way to the Black Balsam Knob area to catch a glimpse of a beautiful mountaintop sunset. The mountain balds in this area including Black Balsam Knob, Tennent Mountain and Sam Knob, are some of the most breathtaking in the Appalachians, with everything above 6,000 ft. elevation being almost entirely treeless. Although very rare for the area, it allows hikers to walk for nearly three miles without going behind trees, allowing for beautiful views of the surrounding scenery, whether day or night.
Inlet View Bar and Grille - Shalotte (Nearby Hotels)
If you’re looking for a beautiful waterfront sunset, check out the small coastal town of Shalotte, particularly the Inlet View Bar & Grill that is located at the intersection of the Shalotte River and the Intracoastal Waterway. This popular restaurant offers a front-row seat to some of the most beautiful sunsets in the area, on their multiple outdoor decks and through the large picture windows that surround the dining room. Sit back with some fresh, wild-caught seafood, a tasty cocktail and enjoy the view!
McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Charlotte (Nearby Hotels)
Located on Lake Wylie in south Charlotte, the McDowell Nature Center and Preserve offers another great opportunity to take in a waterfront sunset. The preserve is the oldest in Mecklenburg County and consists of 1,132 acres of rolling, wooded terrain that lies along Lake Wylie. The Nature Center is also home to live animals from the area, as well as a discovery hall where visitors can learn and play hands-on. Although there are 7 miles of trails to discover, all with breathtaking views, the best spot to watch the sunset is the waterfront deck and gazebo located right on the water.
Wayah Bald Lookout Tower - Nantahala National Forest (Nearby Hotels)
At 5,342 feet in elevation, the Wayah Bald Lookout Tower, located in the Nantahala National Forest, offers views all the way from Tennessee to Georgia. It is accessible from both the Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail and dates back to the 1930’s when it was built as a fire tower. The 53-foot, three story tower was added to the National Historic Lookout Register in 2007 and now, in addition to picturesque views, also offers visitors educational information on the surrounding area. There are also public toilets and a small picnic area located here, so it’s a great place to stop for a sunset picnic!
Hawksbill Mountain - Linville Gorge (Nearby Hotels)
If you’re looking for a sunset that comes with a magnificent panoramic view, check out Hawksbill Mountain in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. This 4,009 foot summit can be accessed by a 1.5 mile round-trip hike and offers amazing views of the Linville Gorge and the Linville River. On a clear day, you can see into Charlotte, Grandfather Mountain and Mt. Mitchell, depending on which way you look. There’s also a large rock face at the end of the summit trail that offers a great place to sit and take in the sunset.
Waterrock Knob - Blue Ridge Parkway (Nearby Hotels)
Waterrock Knob, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway heading towards the Great Smoky Mountains Park, is not only the 15th highest mountain in North Carolina, it’s also the 16th highest in the Eastern United States. The hike to the summit is only 1.2 miles round-trip and includes a paved path for the first ¼ mile, as well as a place to rest, so it’s easily accessible. From the top, you’ll be able to see for miles, all the way to the Smoky Mountains. However, you can still some of the best sunset views without having to hike a foot. The parking area at Waterrock Knob offers expansive views to both the east and the west, making it a great spot to take in a sunset or a sunrise.
Sunset Park - Beech Mountain (Nearby Hotels)
The aptly named, Sunset Park, located near the top of Beech Mountain on North Pinnacle Ridge Road, offers amazing views to the west including some pretty spectacular sunsets. You can see clear into Tennessee and since the park also has picnic tables, grills and even a few blueberry bushes, it’s the perfect place to stop for a romantic sunset picnic.