Cape Henry Lighthouse, Virginia Beach

4.2
#1 of 6 in Historic Sites 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.
The 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.
Put Cape Henry Lighthouse into our Virginia Beach road trip planning app and find out what's close by, where to stay, and where to head next.
Source
Create an itinerary including Cape Henry Lighthouse
map
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors
Cape Henry Lighthouse Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
1,220 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • Take the time to climb the 168 steps to the top! You'll love the view! Then take a walk across the street and see where the English settlers came ashore.  more »
  • Nice piece of history with a view of the ocean. You climb the old lighthouse with a great view. Admission is charged. This is on an active military base, so you will get your licence held and be wande...  more »
Google
  • This lighthouse is so cool to see in person. I'm a ship captain and have a special place in my heart for lighthouses. This is one of the best kept lighthouses I've seen. The guides are very knowledgeable and can answer almost any question you throw at them. There are about 190 stairs from the bottom to the top, but they go by faster than you expect. This is a must see if you're in the area.
  • 2 for 1 visit. The old and new lighthouses are about 500 yards from each other. You can climb the old house. The new one is off limits to climbing, but plenty of great photo ops. Have to go through the front gate of the naval base, so have your ID ready. Very kid friendly. Good day trip when in VA Beach.

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
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Popular things to do in Virginia Beach

View all >
4.5
Duration: 2​h
5.0
Duration: 1​h 30​min
4.8
Duration: 2​h 30​min
4.7
Duration: 2​h

Side trips from Virginia Beach

4.4
Duration: 4​h
4.8
Duration: 2​h
4.8
Duration: 2​h

Kid-friendly things to do in Virginia Beach

View all >
4.1
Duration: 2​h 30​min
4.2
Duration: 2​h
4.6
Duration: 2​h 30​min
4.5
Duration: 2​h

Hidden gems in Virginia Beach

4.6
Duration: 2​h
5.0
Duration: 4​h
5.0
Duration: 2​h
4.9
Duration: 4​h

Fun & Games in Virginia Beach

View all >
4.9
Duration: 1​h 30​min
4.2
Duration: 1​h 30​min
4.1
Duration: 2​h 30​min
4.1
Duration: 2​h

Nearby attractions in Virginia Beach

4.9
Duration: 2​h
4.9
Duration: 2​h 30​min
4.9
Duration: 1​h 30​min
4.8
Duration: 2​h 30​min