We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Easy to bike here from boardwalk” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse
583 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23459
757 422 9421
Website
Improve this listing
Type: Lighthouses, Landmarks
Activities: Hiking
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Take a recommended drive to the oldest government-built lighthouse in America.
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“Easy to bike here from boardwalk”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2013

10 mile rt bike ride here from board walk. Bring ID to show guards when entering. Big convienence store at end with drinks and icecream. Nice beach for swimming too. Cute gazeebo for shaded lunch too.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

480 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    261
    138
    64
    8
    9
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Florence, Kentucky
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“The first lighthouse built by the United States”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2013

We see them in so many movies, and have always wondered what they are like inside...Well, now we know...If you get a chance to tour this lighthouse, you should take it...This lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington!...Be sure to have all of your identification in order, because this lighthouse is located on a military base...They did a quick but thorough search of our vehicle, then they let us in...The paper they give you after the inspection is a terrific souvenir. :)

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chesterfield, Virginia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
“stephanie m”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013

we walk the 191 steps to the top. got great pictures from the top. before u get there the army search your car. i probally won't go back. thats one of them one time thing

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pittsburgh, PA
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
82 helpful votes 82 helpful votes
“Worth the visit to learn the history of the area and our country”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013

I took my adult daughter and 7 yr. old grandson to Virginia Beach for their first visit to this area. The purpose of our visit to the Cape Henry Lighthouse was to include a little bit of culture and learning into our vacation visit. The visit was a big hit, both with Mom and Grandson. Actually, more than I would have thought!

Part of the "thrill" for the 7 yr. old was being stopped at the entrance checkpoint by Military Police. We already knew we were going to be subject to this stop, so both adults over 18 had their "official government issued picture ID" (Driver's licenses) in hand. Plus the registration and insurance card for the vehicle.

We were asked to get out of the vehicle, leaving all four doors open, to flip down the sun visors, open the glove compartment and leave it open, and to pop the trunk and the hood.

We complied and stood by and watched as 3 officers inspected under the hood, in the trunk, and under the hood. Grandson was wide-eyed during this, as I explained this is a military base that protects all the people of the United States, that these are special policemen, doing their job to make sure no "bad guys" get onto the military base. I explained to him that it is a privilege for us to be able to visit this special place. It made quite an impression on him!

And you know what? It IS a privilege to visit this place. The original lighthouse was one of the first structures ordered to be built by the newly formed United States of America after the Revolution from Britain. Think about that - it was a brand new country, they did not have a lot of money in the Federal coffers, but they felt it was very, very important to build this Lighthouse at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.

After our inspection we proceeded on to the Lighthouses. There are two of them. The "old" lighthouse, which is the original, made of brick and constructed in the late 1700s. This is the one you can go into and walk up 190-some steps to the top. It is a fantastic view of the area from up there.

Located very close to the old lighthouse is the "new" Cape Henry Lighthouse, made of cast iron (of all things) and built in the late 1800s. This lighthouse is still in use, operated by the Coast Guard, and is NOT open to the public.
The lighthouse is painted in a unique black and white design - a huge replica of which can be seen on Atlantic Ave. up around 33rd. street.

So daughter and grandson went to climb those steps to the top of the lighthouse, of course. Despite the fact that it was 95 degrees outside. (I had read cautions that on extremely hot days, access to the top may be closed due to temperatures reaching 110 degrees inside the lighthouse.)

Grandma, having already done this years before, chose to wait in the small but air-conditioned gift shop/entrance ticket building. This is a lovely little shop with a WONDERFUL selection of books about the area, lighthouses in general, and many other related topics.

I bought a book about the history of the Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads area ($26.95) and a "Travel Journal" for children where they can fill in the pages about their vacation adventures ($16.95). Please remember when you are in these gift shops that you are supporting the ability to keep the facility open to the public. So your purchase actually contributes to the availability for the public to visit these historic places.

Very fit daughter and grandson returned from their trek to the top of the lighthouse looking flushed and happy, and sooner than I would have expected. I asked "What, did you run up those steps?" They said "No!" I asked "Did you go the whole way to the top, where you have to climb up the ladder to see where the light was lit?" They said, "Yes!" I asked "Was it hot up there?" and they both, in unison, said "YES!"

So they cooled down in the air-conditioned gift shop, and grandson spotted a shark's tooth necklace with the shark's tooth encased in acrylic that he wanted and daughter found a book about lighthouses that she wanted. Then we departed.

Grandson wrote in the journal about George Washington "building the lighthouse" and drew a good rendering of both lighthouses. Daughter complained a bit about her thighs hurting the next morning!

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Methuen, Massachusetts
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Informative Staff & Well-Maintained Facilities”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 29, 2013

Hubby went to the lighthouse on his own one afternoon. He notes that it is on a military base, so you need to be prepared to stop at a check point; provide dr. license, car registration, proof of insurance, or if a rental car, the rental agreement. You'll also have to open all car doors, hood, and trunk before being allowed admittance. Lighthouse, itself was very cool with great views, kid-friendly items and activities, and actually 2 lighthouses--the old one you can go up, and the new one that is still actively in service and not accessible. Staff and military personnel were very helpful and accommodating.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Old Cape Henry Lighthouse also viewed

 

Been to Old Cape Henry Lighthouse? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.