Save time to sky watch when the sun sets over Cincinnati
Coastal cities and tropical islands with their ocean views might claim all the sunrise and sunset glory, but Midwesterners know there's a special kind of beauty in their own landlocked landscapes under the gently waning illumination of dusk. Cincinnati, with 22 miles of riverfront, rugged bluffs and ridges and abundant skyscrapers and city parks, is a Midwestern destination where seekers of prime sunset views are spoiled for choice. Whether you want serene, enjoy-the-moment mindfulness or the immortality of a photography exercise, just be in the right place at the right time to discover why a Cincinnati sunset is always a worthy pursuit.
Sunset waits for no one: get the timing right
From the earliest to latest time of day, sunset in Cincinnati ranges from 5:18 p.m. in December to 9:05 in June. Between November and January, the sun sets between 5:18 and 5:41; February to April sunset times are between 6:15 and 8:16; and from May to July the times range from 7:33 to 9:02. As late summer progresses, the time gets gradually earlier from 8:31 in August to 6:58 in October. Enjoy the best sunset views beginning 30 minutes prior to these times.
Peak sunset season
Cincinnati is the eighth cloudiest city in the United States, counting an average of 186 days a year of heavy cloud. While this might hinder sunset views, cloud cover can make for a dramatic spectacle, with the white formations reflecting the sun's red glow in fiery striations. Be aware that fog, more common in fall, might hinder sunset watching plans during that season. Another consideration: Seasonal spectacles such as Fourth of July fireworks shows and the Balluminaria hot air balloon festival add their own visual adornment to a sunset scene.
The best sunset spots in Cincy
Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman’s Cove, adjacent parks covering one mile along the riverfront, are prime places to see sunset views with a backdrop of Kentucky hillsides across the Ohio. Perch atop the Serpentine Wall and scan the vista to frame the sunset with such features as a bronze status of Cincinnatus (the city's namesake), four tall smokestacks, a replica canal lock and other tributes to Cincinnati's river-centric heritage.
Carew Tower, a 574-foot, circa-1930 downtown skyscraper overlooking the waterfront, is the second-tallest building in Cincinnati. Its 49th floor observation deck offers panoramic views stretching miles across the city, including downtown's Fountain Square, the river and distant hills, all made more unforgettable at sunset. This is a seasonal treat, as summer sunset times are later than the observation deck's closing time of 6 p.m. on Fridays and 7 on Sundays. Be aware that the old elevator inside the National Historic Landmark stops four stories short of the deck; you'll need to climb a staircase to get all the way there.
Locals consider Mount Echo Park one of the most attractive in the city, and its 84 wooded hillside acres are a great place to watch the sunset. Photography buffs should point their lenses toward the 1928 Mount Echo Pavilion as its arches and columns become increasingly illuminated in contrast to the darkening backdrop of sky, downtown, the river and the hills of Kentucky.
Of Cincinnati's nine bridges, Newport Southbank Bridge is the best place to stop and hang out, with the river and its traffic flowing far below and the sun slowly dipping in the distance. Dubbed the Purple People Bridge by locals, it's pedestrian-only on its half-mile stretch between Cincinnati and Newport, Ky. If you're in town on a Wednesday between mid-May and early August, catch the free party held on the bridge and enjoy live music, food and drinks with sunset views.
The Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds MLB team, offers sports fans the opportunity to catch a ballgame and sunset at the same time. Pick the right seats for views between two centerfield "smokestacks" through to the city skyline.