Born and raised on the coast, I believe in the importance of making time to appreciate a picturesque view. Picnics during sunsets on the beach often calmed my mind and set the tone for the next day. When we moved to Huntsville, I searched for that unique mountaintop dining experience to replace our ocean view. After all, the local counterpart to oceanside is mountaintop, right? I imagined looking out over mountain ridges as the sun descended. I am happy to report that I found my spot, and I’d love to tell you about it!
While gathering with new friends in the neighborhood, the buzz caught my ear about “Cocktails at the View,” a weekly event held at Burritt on the Mountain, a historic mansion and living history museum overlooking Huntsville. My husband planned the night out. We got our kids settled with a babysitter, got into the van, and entered “Burritt on the Mountain” into the GPS. Driving into town, we turned on Governors Drive as the road began climbing up towards Monte Sano. After two lefts, we passed through a majestic Greek archway, signaling our approach to the historic grand mansion.
Once parked, we walked to the entrance and saw what looked like a deck off the mountainside. “I found it,” I thought out loud - I had found the view I’d been looking for.
When we arrived, we immediately jumped in line to pick up our boxed charcuterie board. We walked the path with our food box and drinks in hand, enjoying the view and conversation. Heading towards the deck, we joined a couple who were about to leave, opened our box, and arranged the charcuterie board. It’s not often that we get away from our home bustling with children, so we enjoy the time away. The sun was still bright as we snacked and talked, inviting others to join us as people posed at the railing, snapping photos.
We noticed the sun had painted arced layers of color as it dropped ever slowly towards the horizon. The harpist created a relaxing ambiance while people socialized and enjoyed the setting sun over Rocket City. Every five to ten minutes, we would notice the increasing saturation of the colors. As the sun made its bold descent, there was an atmosphere of excitement. Make no mistake, the sunset is not the backdrop but the main attraction, and as it made its approach to crest the horizon, a hush fell over the onlookers. Soon we would be left with only a blanket of darkness apart from the twinkling city lights and the few visible stars in the sky. There is a therapeutic aspect of watching the sunset and closing out a day with intention and wonder.
I recommend arriving as close to 5 pm as possible to get a table with a clear view for when the sunset show begins. You’ll want to watch from your seat instead of continually getting up and walking to the railing. Best case scenario, go with a date or group of friends and have one person secure a table while another person stands in the lines. The full-service cash bar is usually set up under a gazebo accompanied by a selection of gourmet food for purchase on the veranda. The food selections are customizable, while the most popular choice was a convenient picnic-style box with high-quality cheeses, meats, olives, fruits, and crackers.
My favorite detail was the one-time use charcuterie board in the box to arrange the items for easy snacking. Champagne is available at the market, or you may go to the cash bar for specific drinks. While the food wasn’t a full meal, it sufficed for a light dinner. I would recommend one box per two people unless your pair comes ravenous.
Take sunglasses as the sun gets brighter right before it begins to lower.
Wear a sleeveless dress or tank and bring a light drape or cardigan for nights - it may be a bit chilly.
Be sure your camera or phone are fully charged because you won’t be able to quit snapping photos of the wide-open, picturesque view of the Huntsville sundown.
There is live music at some of the events; before picking our date, we called the office and heard that one specific night featured a harpist, so that is the night we decided to go. The harpist provided ambiance on the elevated overlook.
Cocktails at the View runs from April through October, and the time is 5–8 pm. Reservations are not needed. Please do not bring in outside food or drink. In the event of rain, Cocktails on the View will be held on the veranda of Baron Bluff.
While the Burritt grounds feature multiple houses that can be toured during daily hours, this event is centered around the elevated mountain top deck, with access to the gazebo and porches to purchase food and drinks.