Rock Harbor Sunset by William Pomeroy

Rock Harbor Sunset by William Pomeroy

Best Places To Catch A Spectacular Sunset (and where to go afterward)

By Susanna Graham-Pye

Ran in the 2014 edition of Truly Orleans

Many magnificent things happen in Orleans, but one of the most magical occurs each and every day as the sun slips from the sky and slides into the sea.


The shift from day to night in this seaside town is amazing: from fiery, explosive beauty — molten oranges, neon blues and  ruby reds — to the purest pastels found only on nature’s palette; from clouds eerily lit from below to expansively clear skies where the edges between colors are rainbow thin. Even overcast, stormy days have their own elegance. No two sunsets are ever the same as night falls upon this fragile peninsula

Orleans celebrates sunsets, and people here know how to turn an evening of sunset watching into a remarkable night on the town.

For casual diners who want nothing more than to spread a blanket  on the cooling sand and end the day where they started it – at the beach – Rock Harbor is the place to go. Dinner here is easy to find: the lobster rolls at Young’s Fish Market on the pier are the best – reasonably priced and bursting with sweet lobster meat. Because the little fish market closes well before the sun goes down, order ahead and pick them up before closing.

Rock Harbor sunsets are social affairs, filled with the comings and goings of the harbor’s sports fishing boats, which make up one of the Eastern Seaboard’s largest charter fleets. As the boats return from a day on the bay, the soft evening air fills with the laughter of fishermen and friends. Oftentimes you’ll find the live music of the local steel drum band, and the bells of the Church of the Transfiguration ringing out the end of the day.

Famed Skaket Beach is just around the bend and there the Captain Linnell House is the perfect elegant complement to a beautiful sunset.

The Captain Linnell House is a French-designed neo-classic built in 1840 by one of the many remarkable seamen who once called Orleans home. The elegant building, with its wisteria draped facade, lavender-lined walkways and brick-walled rose garden, has been lovingly restored over the past two decades by the Conway family. The restaurant serves candle-lit meals in intimate rooms on tables laid with linen and china. The menu features all the best the region has to offer.

Sunset in Orleans doesn’t always have to be observed from the beach. Twilit hours bring salt scented breezes into the heart of the town. A hot dog at Eldredge Park while watching the Firebirds play against another Cape Baseball League’s team is a fine way to wind down the day. There is something simply satisfying about sitting on a grassy bank, seeing day turn to night, watching children turn cartwheels, and hearing the crack of a wooden bat against a ball.

The Orleans Waterfront Inn offers another lovely twilight option, with outdoor dining on its waterfront deck. The old inn was once the hub of Orleans trade, housing Aaron Snow’s store, which sold everything from lumber to drygoods. When the railway came to Orleans and wares were delivered by train rather than packet ship, the Snows moved their enterprise to its current location in the center of town. Today, the inn’s deck is the perfect place to watch the stars come out at night.

Maybe  the best thing about the end to an Orleans day is that another one lies on the horizon,  dawning on Nauset Beach when the sun returns, reaching rays across the Atlantic to awaken the town.

Catch Your Sunset

Young’s Fish Market
(508) 255-3366

Church of the Transfiguration
(508) 255-1094

Captain Linnell House
(508) 255-3400

Orleans Firebirds

Orleans Waterfront Inn
(508) 255-2222