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AWAKENING | Watch the Sunrise in New York

AWAKENING | Watch the Sunrise in New York

Sunrise of Mt. Colden, ADK. Photo: Sunrise Maplogs

Watching a sunset isn’t bad. But watching the sunrise can be life-transforming…according to science.  

The effort of getting up early enough to watch the sun greet a pocket of the earth requires the soul of a romantic poet and the discipline of an overburdened accountant during tax season. 

Catching early morning rays may require forethought and commitment, but it will do more than just boost your Instagram feed. According to studies, being exposed to early morning light in particular turns off melatonin production, amps up wakefulness, and sets your body’s circadian clock for the day, which in turn helps regulate your digestive system. So yes, catching early rays on the regular is associated with a lower BMI. One study even shows that early morning light may help heal brains after traumatic injuries. 

So if you are going to set your alarm clock for the crack of dawn, we want to help you with the “soul of a romantic poet” part by offering some of our most favorite perches in New York State from which to greet the day. 

SUNKEN MEADOW PARK

Photo: Sunken Meadow Park

With views of the Long Island Sound and Connecticut off in the distance, this Long Island park usually has a handful of sunrise aficionados roaming the edges of the tidal flats, and climbing the wooded rolling hills every morning. One of the best ways to greet the new day is with a breakfast picnic beachside or on a blanket along the boardwalk. 

MONTAUK LIGHTHOUSE

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Rising above the sea at the tip of eastern Long Island, Montauk Lighthouse provides 360-degree views of Block Island Sound, the Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. But you don’t need to climb it. You can stand next to it or behind it so you see it in profile as the sun sheds its first rays; you’ll get the glory of nature and humanity in one. This lighthouse is the oldest in New York, and was authorized under President George Washington in 1792. Unlike many other ancient lighthouses, it is still in use today.   

LETCHWORTH STATE PARK

Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the East Coast,” the view of the sun’s good morning greeting doesn’t get much better than from Letchworth State Park’s Archery Field Overlook. Really, the entire park, with 66 miles of hiking trails and three major waterfalls (some as high as 600 feet) between cliffs is a perfect setting for observing a red sky at dawn. Stay awhile for a walk, a rafting trip, a dip in a swimming nook or even a trip on a hot air balloon. Take any littles you have along to the Humphrey Nature Center

MIRROR LAKE

The 124-acre lake that serves as a looking glass for the Village of Lake Placid offers stunning reflections of the sun’s rise. Stroll the 2.7 mile loop around the lake or sit on the beach and enjoy the stillness.

MT. COLDEN

With an elevation of 4,714 feet, Mt. Colden is one of the most popular climbs in the Adirondack’s 46 High Peaks. As challenging as it is beautiful, this is not an ascent to attempt on a whim. But the 6.3 mile-trail leads to a gorgeous view of the sunrise (bring a headlamp for the hike!), along with fragile alpine vegetation and stark, almost moon-like rocky vistas. 

ROGERS MEMORIAL PARK BEACH

Rogers Memorial Park Beach in Bolton Landing opens just before sunrise, and it is one of the best public beaches in Lake George. Getting there at sunrise gives you not only a vista of clear green-blue lake, beach, and forest, but first dibs on space (picnic tables and grills are available first come first served), or at the basketball or tennis courts. 

NIAGARA FALLS

Press play to watch Niagara Falls Sunrise Time Lapse

If you want to feel patriotic, inspired by human ingenuity, and awed by nature, it is tough to find a better place than Niagara Falls in the U.S., or just across the Canadian border. The American and Bridal Veil Falls on the New York side are about 176 high, with a 1,060 long brink and the falls typically sending 150,000 gallons per second cascading down...

TOP OF THE ROCK

Hovering 70 floors above the ground, early birds love to greet the day from the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. With three indoor and outdoor viewing decks to choose from and unobstructed 360-degree views of the skyline and Central Park, it’s tough to find a better vista with which to start the day. Buy a ticket in advance and use the timed-ticketing system, if you don’t want to wait. 

VALENTINO PIER

By mid-morning, Valentino Pier in Brooklyn will be bustling, but if you get there first thing, you may have it to yourself. This Red Hook gem, surrounded by a blend of industrial, residential, and historic buildings, served as one of the most important shipping centers in New York City until the early 20th century. In this setting, with one foot in the past and another in the future, as you take in the unabridged view of the Statue of Liberty against a fiery red-orange backdrop, you can’t help but feel like you’ve slipped into another world. 

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK

Photo: Lukas Schlagenhauf/Flickr

Parks in New York City feel especially still and remote in the early morning and late evening. Even the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park, stretching along 1.3 miles of Brooklyn’s East River, where Manhattan’s skyline is always in view, feels wild. For an extra dose of calm wakefulness, combine your morning sunrise viewing with Abhaya Yoga, where participants are led through a class that integrates postures, breathing exercises, relaxation, and mediation.