Best Time to View Sunsets in New York

By Ashley Friedman

When to see the sun set in the city that never sleeps

Best Time to View Sunsets in New York

New York has a reputation as “the city that never sleeps,” and it's true that the city's pulsing pace continues long after the sun has gone down. But sunset in New York City is a special time as the bustle of the day gives way to the leisure of the evening hours. Sunset in Manhattan is a particularly magical time, and while the city doesn't have completely uninterrupted views all year, watching the sun descend behind the buildings of New Jersey is a lot nicer than it sounds.

Best time to view sunsets

Like any city in the United States, New York City's sunset hour changes with the seasons. In wintertime, the days are shorter, and the sunset can begin as early as 4:45 p.m. in mid-January. As the calendar moves toward summertime, though, the days lengthen, and by mid-April, the sun stays out until nearly 7:30 p.m. During the summer, the days are long, and the sun often doesn't set until 8:25 p.m. in July. As the calendar creeps closer to fall, the days get shorter as the sun begins to set earlier and earlier. By mid-October, just a couple of weeks before daylight saving time begins, the sun makes its daily descent around 6:30 p.m.

Season and weather

Any season in New York City is subject to overcast skies, but wintertime is when you're the most at risk of a cloudy day that will obscure any real chance at seeing the sunset. Spring, summer and early autumn tend to have crisp days with a high possibility of sun. When the skies are clear, the sunset is pretty spectacular, especially at the end of summer. If you're in New York during late May or mid-July, you may be treated to a New York's solar phenomenon known as “Manhattanhenge.” Coined by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Manhattanhenge happens once before and once after the summer solstice, when the setting sun aligns perfectly with the east-west streets of Manhattan's grid. The effect is spectacular, and, when not marred by cloud cover, worth waiting for.

Best places to view sunsets

One of the best parts of New York's seemingly endless skyscrapers are the myriad available locations for watching the sunset. You can enjoy the setting sun from the observation tower at the Empire State Building, but the throngs of tourists can make the experience more chaotic than relaxing. Instead, check out one of the hotels with a rooftop bar on Manhattan's west side, such as The Gansevoort or The Standard. If you'd prefer to take in the view in a more public place, the High Line or the beautifully landscaped Hudson River Park might be the perfect location to watch the sun descend over the Hudson River. For a more unique experience, take a sunset cruise with a cruise company such as Bateaux New York for up-close views of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge accompanied by live music, dinner and dancing.

About the Author

Ashley Friedman graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Social Sciences. She has experience writing copy for the websites of creative professionals, and regularly contributes to several blogs covering popular culture, travel, food, and social action.