Cape Henry Lighthouse, Virginia Beach

4.2
#7 of 85 in Things to do in Virginia Beach
The Cape Henry Lighthouse is a lighthouse at Cape Henry, the landform marking the southern entrance to Chesapeake Bay in the U.S. state of Virginia. The location has long been important for the large amount of ocean-going shipping traffic for the harbors, its rivers, and shipping headed to ports on the bay. The original lighthouse was the first authorized by the U.S. government, dating from 1792. It was also the first federal construction project under the Constitution, for an original contract amount of $15,200 (an additional $2,500 was required to finish the lighthouse). A second lighthouse was built and completed in 1881 a short distance away after concern arose about the stability of the first. Both towers of the light station were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.HistoryThe first work of the new U.S. Federal government, the first Cape Henry lighthouse was built of Aquia and Rappahannock sandstone by John McComb, Jr. and was completed in October, 1792. McComb was one of the architects involved in the construction of New York City Hall and would design other lighthouses. The lighthouse's design was based on the 1767 Cape Henlopen Light. The lighthouse was damaged by Confederate forces during the American Civil War, but was repaired by Union forces in 1863, who depended on the light for navigation. In the 1870s, concerns about the condition and safety of the old Lighthouse at Cape Henry following a lightning strike that caused large cracks in the structure led to the construction of a new, taller, lighthouse at Cape Henry (pictured to the right) in 1881, which stands 350 feet to the northeast of the original tower. The old tower remained standing, used as a daymark and as a basis for triangulation. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1983 and remains in use today.
Using our international travel planner, Virginia Beach attractions like Cape Henry Lighthouse can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
Source
Create an itinerary including Cape Henry Lighthouse
map
Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
1,006 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • August 14, 2017
    Please know you must go thru the Navy joint forces security to reach this site but it is well worth it. There are 2 light houses, 1 is still in use. The beach at the entrance of the base is worth a st...  more »
  • August 11, 2017
    Make sure you have your vehicle registration and proof of insurance as you will need this to enter the active military installation. There are many steps to climb just to get to the lighthouse, then o...  more »
  • August 11, 2017
    As long as you are in good physical condition ,not overweight, have strong heart, good legs, endurance for walking 5miles or so & don"t suffer from vertigo i see no reason to give it a try.  more »
Google
  • June 14, 2017
    It is a bit expensive, $9 for AAA members, but they need it to restore the dunes. And I almost didn't get on base because my insurance card expired 13 days ago. Thank God for smart phones, got the card sent to me. Very nice and respectful Marine, though. He was doing his job well.
  • May 5, 2017
    The website will fail to tell you it's on an active military base, which I have zero problem with as I support our military 100%. The reason I give it a 1 star is because of them simply failing to tell you important information when purchasing tickets online. We drove 30 minutes from our hotel to see the lighthouse after buying tickets online and being denied because Pennsylvania takes forever to send you an updated registration card. Our current registration card was out 4 days, yet every other document was spot on as asked for and we were still denied. Again I don't knock the military for doing their job as I'm happy for that it's the lack of information given upon purchasing tickets. We did not expect any of this and it's lucky we had any of the info asked for as many people on vacation tend to leave stuff securely in their room.
  • July 1, 2017
    A nice Virginia piece of history to experience. And a narrow old spiral stair well lol. Yeah I got a little dizzy.
  • May 31, 2017
    So not worth it. This visit cost us $40.00 for our family of six and took us all of ten minutes. It's basically climb an enclosed spiral staircase (191 steps) to the top, take a look, come back down. The lighthouse is on a small bluff encircled by trees, so there really aren't even any grounds to walk to extend your visit. There are a few benches circling the lighthouse and a very limited view of the water if you try hard enough to see it. There's also a guy set up outside the lighthouse with a table of "artifacts" (basically a few rocks, a fossil shell, and some photos). It took us longer to get on base (upwards of thirty minutes due to security checks) than to see the lighthouse. The beach is closed to civilians. Basically, this trip was a bummer.
  • May 26, 2017
    DON'T FORGET YOUR PROOF OF INSURANCE! They will not let you on the base without it, as well as license and registration. I was pretty surprised by this, because to get on base where I live, I've only needed my license.

Plan your trip to Virginia Beach

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Virginia Beach

With over 10,000 hotel rooms, Virginia Beach offers comfortable and affordable accommodations for every type of traveler. Even with that many places to choose from, this popular resort area does get quite crowded during the height of the tourist season, so it is essential to reserve your lodgings well in advance. You can stay just steps from the Atlantic by booking your room at one of the city's luxury resort hotels. To stay near the water for less, consider a budget-friendly inn with an ocean view.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor

Plans in Virginia Beach by other users

3 days in Virginia Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, popular PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 6 days in Charlotte & Virginia Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, popular PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Virginia Beach BY A USER FROM CANADA May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Virginia Beach & Asbury Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, kids, popular PREFERENCES: November, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Virginia BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, kids, popular PREFERENCES: November, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Virginia BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, kids, popular PREFERENCES: November, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 26 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: November, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 25 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: November, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 8 days in Virginia Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES October, popular PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Virginia Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES October, romantic, popular PREFERENCES: October, romantic ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in Virginia Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, outdoors, romantic, beaches, shopping, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, outdoors, romantic, beaches, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 2 days in Virginia Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans