Watching the sun set is a pastime as old as the ages. It can be enjoyed from any place around the globe and is supremely unique every evening. Changes in cloud formation and weather patterns create a variety of colors and textures. In some cases those colors may be mirrored by their reflection in a body of water or a simple rain puddle.

Day by day, these changing beauties call us to go for walks and sit on park benches and observe with wonder as the colors shift and fade into nightfall. Thurston County has no shortage of landscape to frame these events. With the help of some local sun chasers, I have collected a few cannot-miss locations for your next relaxing evening.

1. Capitol Lake

The sun makes it way behind the trees across Capitol Lake. Photo credit: Jaima Sadira

Most of us Olympians are familiar with the picaresque loop around Capitol Lake. Every day locals circle the lake, taking in views of the dome. For all my walks and jogs around the lake, I had never taken one at dusk. It previously had not occurred to me to seek out sunsets; I just tended to stumble upon them. I have since changed my tune and can assure you this spot is a winner. There are ample benches and stops along the path to sit back and take in all the spectacular scenery.

2. Anthony’s Hearthfire

Anthony’s Hearthfire is the perfect place to take in a sunset while enjoying a lovely meal. Photo credit: Joanna Sather

Anthony’s Hearthfire is a favorite Olympia restaurant for many reasons. The view, the food, the drinks, and of course, the sunsets are second to none. Hearthfire is built on pilings above Budd Inlet at the end of Marine Drive. The view is sweeping and unobstructed. The scenery can be enjoyed from the patio during warmer weather or from inside through large windows in the colder months. Sunsets are visible virtually every day from either location.

3. The Beach at The Evergreen State College

This pup takes a sunset swim at the beach at The Evergreen State College. Photo credit: Hayley Matz

The Evergreen State College is a long time contributor to the Thurston County community. It is known for being a progressive advocate of arts and sciences. But what it may be less known for are the beautiful trails and beach located on campus. There is a wooded wonderland to be explored and a beach that boasts a perfect backdrop for a jaw-dropping sunset. The beach is just a short jaunt from the main campus. Flashlights are encouraged for the walk back, however. Be sure to bring along a phone or camera to snap a picture and a few dollars for parking.

4. Budd Inlet

Budd Inlet offers beautiful sunsets with a variety of backdrops like the marina, pictured here. Photo credit: Justin Scott

Budd Inlet is the southernmost tip of the Puget Sound. It is accessible from several locations throughout Olympia, making it a versatile sunset-viewing point. From Percival Landing to Priest Point Park, the landscape changes, but the photo ops are consistent. Both the marinas and the wide-open views mean there is never a lack of contrast and color for the setting sun.

5. Eld Inlet

A blue heron takes a sunset stroll along Eld Inlet. Photo credit: Dave Smith

Eld Inlet lies between Budd and Totten inlets. Much like Budd Inlet, Eld Inlet covers a lot of ground and allows sun-seekers many opportunities to take in show-stopping sunsets. Eld Inlet stretches from Mud Bay to Cooper Point with access to The Evergreen State College in the center. There is hardly a bad spot to take in a sunset along the way.  Try Frye Cove Park off Steamboat Island Road or drive the length of Steamboat Island Road and visit Carlyon Beach Park.

Now that the weather is finally on our side, getting outside is a must. Whether you are after a little romance, or wish to enjoy a walk with a friend, a trot with the dog or some quiet time to yourself, these spots will do the trick. Don your favorite summer sweater, pack your camera and let nature do the rest. See you at sunset.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at submit@thurstontalk.com. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and the surrounding area, visit our complete event calendar.

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