My cycling group was thrilled when daylight saving time arrived so we could resume one of our favorite rides: a 15-mile sunset ride.

Although many of our rides are through beautiful landscapes, they are more about clocking miles in the shortest amount of time than soaking up scenery. But this is a much more leisurely journey from the gate of Fort Pickens to the tip of Santa Rosa Island along the Pensacola Pass at sunset, and the scenery is breathtaking and soul reviving.

While Fort Pickens is one of my favorite sunset-watching spots, the beauty of living in a coastal community with ample waterfront along the Gulf of Mexico, Intracoastal Waterway, Perdido Bay and Pensacola Bay is that you have many perfect sunset-watching spots from which to choose.

Here are a few of my favorites along with a hint: Avid sunset lovers know the best show comes right after the sun sinks below the horizon. The afterglow can provide some of the most vivid colors. So stick around and watch as the sunset deepens into the star-studded night.

Gulf Islands National Seashore Fort Pickens 

Fort Pickens at Sunset
(PHOTO CREDIT KIMBERLY BLAIR)  

With the sound of the Gulf of Mexico waves as our sound track, the stress of the day vanishes with each pedal stroke west into the sinking sun and under a sky splashed with an array of colors.

Each sunset provides a different palette, depending on the weather conditions. Thunder cloud-dotted skies offer the most dramatic hues — ranging from fire red to cotton candy pink and moody purples. 

Many locals will agree — the tip of Santa Rosa Island, where Pensacola Bay meets the Gulf, is one of the best spots for viewing a sunset. Clusters of sunset lovers gather along the Fort Pickens beaches, the sea wall or on top of the batteries to snap photos, snuggle with a lover or even tie the knot under a canopy of color.

The Bridge Bar and Sunset Lounge –– Gulf Breeze

The Bridge Bar at Sunset
(PHOTO CREDIT KIMBERLY BLAIR)

At the foot of the Pensacola Bay Bridge in Gulf Breeze, the Bridge Bar’s outside decks were designed to provide a front row seat for daily sunsets. You’ll want to grab a drink to toast the moment from an impressive list of wines, craft beers, martinis and just about any cocktail you desire.

Nightly bands set the tone to soak up Mother Nature’s amazing show. Everyone gets creative snapping photos capturing the sunset through wine or beer glasses, framed with palm fronds or a mirrored reflection in the bay.

Palafox Pier –– Downtown Pensacola

Palafox Pier at Sunset(PHOTO CREDIT KIMBERLY BLAIR) 

Palafox Pier is a great family spot to enjoy spectacular sunsets. I love the fact you can relax on benches along the waterfront or venture out on the Yacht Harbor Marina seawall to snap photos of the panoramic view of Pensacola Bay washed in oranges, reds and yellows.

I personally love to get an outdoor seat at Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grille and enjoy the antipasto platter and a glass of wine with friends to watch Mother Nature’s spectacular show. The view of the sun setting behind the silhouette of sailing masts is definitely photo-worthy.

Sunset Grille – Perdido Key

This is another great family spot with stunning views of the sunset from the shore of the Intracoastal Waterway. Fans of this place love the casual atmosphere and grouper bites, and the fact that grownups can enjoy a round of cold beer while the kids play in the fenced playground. You can enjoy this all day long, but dining at sunset is a must-do. Keep your camera ready, you just might catch dolphins passing through the Intracoastal channel as the sun melts into the water.

Gulf of Mexico

If you want a truly magical sun-setting experience, hands down, you’ll find that on the Gulf front from Pensacola Beach through Perdido Key and the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

I love relaxing in a beach chair on the shoreline as day eases into evening. I have spent many nights soaking in the sunset while watching pods of dolphins swimming to their nighttime grounds pass by, and coastal birds flocking into the dunes for the night. The warm sand cools as the sun sinks lower into the horizon, and ghost crabs emerge from countless holes.

Depending on the time of the year, the sun will set either farther north on the western horizon or farther south. Each season provides what I consider one of nature’s greatest masterpieces.

Have a favorite spot left off this list? Tell us where you go to watch the sun set in the comment section below.