’Sets and the City

S moky red, cloudy pink, hidden behind storm clouds rolling in from the west. Every sunset is unique, and New Haven’s got some great spots to watch the next show unfold.

Perhaps the most obvious candidates for a nice sunset view are the highest: the cliffs of East Rock and West Rock. They come with complications, however. Because the road to West Rock’s overlook closes at 6 p.m., well before a summer sunset, and East Rock’s driveway seems indefinitely closed, you’ll have to hike up. And once the sunset’s through, you’ll want to hurry back down the trail before dark.

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Downtown structures can lift your gaze with less work. From the expansive open rooftop of the Temple Street Garage, the cupola of Criterion Cinemas provides a picturesque accompaniment to a brooding sky. But the view is both clearer and broader from the Crown Street Garage, where you can see the sun set over a sweep of the city even though the top two floors are currently closed. Add comfort and hospitality to the mix at High George, the Blake Hotel’s reservation-only rooftop restaurant and bar, which offers an open-air view to the west while you sip a Gold Adventure or an Oasis.

For the very best sunset views, drink in an adventure to the oasis known as the East Shore, where New Haven Harbor both widens and reflects the sky. A seaside walkway dotted with trees in East Shore Park is a great place to take it all in. So is Fort Nathan Hale Park, where a walk through the wetlands to benches and historic bunkers brings a quiet, elevated view. Alternatively, just downshore, stroll onto the T-shaped fishing pier or settle on a bench along the water’s edge while kids play on the small playground beside the parking lot. The pier is a gathering place for anglers of all ages, who often cast into the evening. Local fishers agreed this is a great late-day spot, but even better, one woman said as she pointed east, is the Pardee Seawall, where you’ll see “the most beautiful sunset of your life.” Press on even farther to land on the shores of Lighthouse Point Park, another hot spot to catch the day’s last rays. Though it, too, closes its driveway at sundown, you can linger for longer by parking somewhere in Morris Cove and walking in.

Back near the thick of the city but also removed from it, Yale’s Farnam Memorial Gardens off Prospect Street is a pleasant spot to spread a blanket toward sunset. The horizon isn’t in view from here, but a leaf-filtered bath of orange light is, and a golden bank of black-eyed Susans may compete for attention with the gilded sky.

The campus of Albertus Magnus College, also off Prospect, does afford a horizon view, where the sun meets West Rock Ridge. Benches around the college’s track offer a resting place to watch the colors brighten, then deepen, then fade into the darker gray-blue already visible to the east.

Speaking of looking east, here’s a last, less conventional suggestion: Walk into Edgerton Park, spread out your blanket at the top of the hill near the Brewster Fountain and turn your back to the sun. The cliffs of East Rock will light up as red as a vivid sunset. Then, as the sun fades on rock and sky, light will illuminate the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Finally, look up. Our own star will be gone, but a few farther stars will have risen.

Photo Locations:

1. Crown Street Garage in summer.
2. Farnam Memorial Gardens in summer.
3. East Shore Park in winter.
4. Pardee Seawall in spring, with a cellphone.
5. Fort Nathan Hale Park in fall.

Written by Kathy Leonard Czepiel. Images 1 and 3-5 photographed by Dan Mims. Image 2 photographed by Kathy Leonard Czepiel.

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About Kathy Leonard Czepiel

View all posts by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
Kathy Leonard Czepiel is Daily Nutmeg's associate editor. She's also a fiction writer, writing teacher and book club troubleshooter. Her perfect New Haven day would involve lots of sunshine, a West Rock hike, a concert on the green and a coffee milkshake.

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