Louisville has epic sunsets. And they are not your typical run-of-the-mill pretty sunsets, y’all. Thanks to some science-y thing having to do with being in a river valley and, er, trapping air pollution – actually, let’s skip over the details – Louisville’s sunsets are next level: streaks of peach, vermillion, fuchsia, orange, and lavender paint the sky every night, causing all of us to drop everything that we’re doing and run outside to take pictures.
In the middle of summer, the sun can set as late as 9-10PM – so you’ve got plenty of time to plan a dinner or evening stroll to maximize your sunset viewing. Add in the magic of fireflies twinkling at twilight and you’ve got the perfect Kentucky night and probably one of the best Louisville date ideas – it’s so simple and romantic! Here are the best places to watch the sunset in Louisville.
Check out a few of these other posts:
- The 63 Best Things to Do in Louisville
- The Ultimate Guide to Louisville Breweries
- The 16 Best Bars in Louisville
Where to watch the sunset in Louisville, KY
Predicting a good sunset is an art – one that I’ve yet to master, though I gave it my best attempt while shooting photos for this post! The best sunsets in Louisville are typically on cloudy days, especially days when a storm has passed or rain has cleared up. If you see clouds giving way to a bright blue sky a few hours before sunset, run – don’t walk – to your nearest park, rooftop patio, steamboat, or riverside brewery to catch the show!
One local quirk I’ve noticed over the years is that since we’re blessed with unusually fabulous sunsets, we Louisvillians are all amateur sunset photographers. On on the night of a particularly ridiculous one, multitudes of photos will appear on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds like clockwork. If you miss a good sunset, you’ll know – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll immediately get FOMO. So keep this post bookmarked just in case!
Here are all the best spots to view the sunset in Louisville.
Sunset Cruise on the Belle of Louisville
Live jazz, laughter, clinking glasses and the bellow of a steamboat’s whistle (er, calliope): are we in the roaring 20’s, or did you just board the Belle of Louisville? Honestly, it feels like both on the Belle of Louisville’s sunset cruises. Except we’re way beyond prohibition, and nowadays you can get some excellent cocktails on board – they’re the cat’s pajamas!
Head to the waterfront to take a leisurely chug downriver in the evening twilight. You’ll pass under 3 bridges – 4 if the current and an evening breeze are in your favor – and return two hours later to the sparkling lights of downtown Louisville under the moonlight. It’s a truly magical experience, whether you’re on a romantic evening date for two or bringing the whole family aboard!
We recommend booking tickets for your sunset cruise in advance and arriving about 30 minutes prior to boarding, so you can snag seats and get all settled in for departure.
The Deck at Captain’s Quarters
Located along beautiful River Road directly along the Ohio River, the scenic drive to Captain’s Quarters is half the adventure. And once you step through the soaring restaurant interior out onto the back patio, you’ll see why this is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Louisville: three levels of decks and a sprawling lawn lined with Adirondack chairs all face the water, perfectly situated to capture nature’s best evening show!
Captain’s Quarters is the perfect place for a special evening – it’s one of the best Louisville date ideas or my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner (specific, but historically accurate). And if you’re going all out, you might as well get a table and order some food.
But honestly, you don’t need an excuse to drop by: just grab some drinks from the bar and camp out on the patio chairs!
- Local Tip: Captain’s Quarters is very popular, especially on the weekends, and you can’t reserve an outdoor table. But if you show up on a weekday about an hour before sunset, you should have no trouble getting chairs or an outdoor table!
Walking the Big Four Bridge
Dominating Waterfront Park and stretching across the Ohio River from Kentucky to Indiana, the Big Four Bridge is Louisville’s best walking bridge – and a phenomenal spot to watch the sunset!
Stroll across the bridge at twilight to catch the sun setting behind the skyline and sparkling along the water of the Ohio River.
If you’re lucky, you just might see the Belle of Louisville chugging along underneath you on her evening sunset cruise!
- Local Tip: After sunset, walk to NuLu to grab drinks and dinner! Check out our NuLu neighborhood guide for details.
Upstairs Patio at Gravely
Located on Baxter Avenue between Nulu and the Highlands, Gravely is a dog-friendly brewery with a 2-level outdoor patio.
Head up to the topmost patio for a sweeping view of the city, and enjoy the sunset view while noshing on tacos from Mayan Street Food and sipping a locally-brewed beer. And if you’re running low on Louisville date ideas this is a great place to cozy up with that someone special!
Dinner & Drinks at Upland Brewery
Upland Brewing Co may be from Bloomington, IN, but their Jeffersonville taphouse is definitely the most stunning! Their outdoor heated patio overlooks the Ohio River and the gorgeous Louisville skyline – which means it’s a phenomenal spot to get dinner and watch the sunset.
Upland also happens to be one of the best breweries in the Louisville area. They’re best known for their creative takes on tart, sour beers: try a PawPaw (what’s more Kentucky than that?) or Modern Tart for a full acidic pucker experience. Pair it with their pretzel and pimento/beer cheese, brewery fries, or whipped feta and honey.
Cocktails on the Roof at 8Up
8up Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen‘s chic rooftop bar is in the heart of downtown Louisville, so you’ll get that perfect golden hour glow as the sun bounces off the surrounding skyscrapers (or, like, Louisville’s equivalent of skyscrapers).
Order one of their fanciest craft cocktails, like a Louisville Frappe made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, biscotti liqueur and a heavy cream float, and watch the sun set as the fire-pits send dancing reflections flickering off the glass surrounding the outdoor patio.
- Local Tip: In the winter, you can rent a cozy igloos to enjoy the sparkling lights of the city from above in comfort. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Louisville in the winter!
Alex&nder at Copper & Kings
You may know that there are several distilleries in Louisville, but you may not know that not all of them are crafting bourbon! The Butchertown-based Copper & Kings Distillery produces bourbon barrel-aged brandy, absinthe, gin, and a variety of liqueurs, all made from American-grown grapes and apples. And located on top of the stacked shipping containers is a rooftop bar and restaurant with – you guessed it – an incredible view of Louisville!
The seasonal menu at Alex&nder highlights brandy through elevated Kentucky fare, and is delicious enough to warrant a trip any time of day. But sunset is when the restaurant really shines!
Enjoy an Apple Brandy cocktail and one of the best burgers in Louisville while gazing at Louisville skyline stretching out across the industrial rooftops of Butchertown. As the sun sets behind the city, the buildings darken to a striking silhouette.
- Local Tip: After dark, head next door to Play Dance Bar to see a drag show and dance the night away!
Dinner at Swizzle
Located on the 25th floor of one of Louisville’s most iconic hotels, Swizzle is the perfect restaurant for taking in 360-degree sunset views over downtown Louisville and the Ohio River. And I mean 360-degrees literally: the restaurant rotates as you eat, so you’ll catch the best views in Louisville no matter where you’re seated! Talk about one of the best Louisville date ideas!
Settle into one of the restaurant’s huge, comfy round booths and order a delicious steak. The restaurant is inspired by 1940’s Louisville, so feel free to throw in a little 40’s slang, like “holy mackerel, we’re really cooking with gas!” or “by golly, I’m really on the sauce” or maybe tell your server a story about how you almost lost a leg in the great war. Just be sure to tip accordingly.
Ashland Park in Clarksville, Indiana
It seems a little unfair that some of the best vantage points of Louisville’s skyline are actually across the river in southern Indiana, doesn’t it? But this hidden gem is well worth the trip over the bridge!
Located just down the Ohio River Scenic Byway from the Falls of the Ohio, this tiny park sits directly across from a charming, bright yellow Victorian mansion that’s also sweet little ice cream shoppe! The Widows Walk Ice Creamery is a popular stop for visitors to the Falls or peddlers out enjoying the biking trails, and it just so happens to be one of the best places to watch the sunset.
The park has an incredible, unobstructed view of Louisville, and it’s the perfect place to set up a picnic, order a milkshake or banana split to share, and watch the sunset. You’ll find restrooms, a playground, and picnic tables to use. There’s even the most perfectly placed bench for maximum charm (and photo-readiness).
The North Overlook in Iroquois Park
Louisville’s Olmsted-designed parks system is a well known point of pride here in town. Each park has something special to offer, but Iroquois Park is a crown jewel. Often overlooked for its more famous sibling Cherokee Park, Iroquois Park is bigger and some may say, even better. Paths and trails wind throughout the park, and at its heart is an old-growth forest blanketing steep hillsides. Climb – or drive – to the top of one of those hills and you’ll find the North Overlook.
Located at the end of a meandering, wheelchair-accessible path, the Overlook features a sweeping, panoramic view of downtown Louisville and the Indiana Knobs stretching away over miles of treetops.
The Overlook is opened daily for pedestrians and bikes, but car access to the top of the hill is only available Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Unfortunately, the park does close to cars at 8pm, which means this spot is best for chilly fall and winter sunsets! Or just strap on your hiking shoes and enjoy a leisurely mile-long stroll to the overlook year-round.
Which sunset spot are you headed to first? Drop us a comment below!
Before you go, be sure to check out these other posts:
- The 45 Best Places to Eat in Louisville
- 9 Delicious Distilleries in Louisville
- 13 Famous Louisville (& Kentucky) Foods You Have to Try
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Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with the Belle of Louisville. All opinions, awkward historical slang, clear desire to travel back in time, and bad jokes are 100% our own and absolutely not their fault.