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“1st Federal Public Works Project!”

Cape Henry Lighthouse
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Owner description: Preservation Virginia acquired the Cape Henry Lighthouse in 1930 when Congress deeded the house and 1.77 Acres of land to the organization in order to preserve it and make it accessible to the public. Over the years lighthouse and its surroundings have been restored including repairing the lantern after damage from Hurricane Barbara in 1953, repairing the damaged original Aquia sandstone and restoring the surrounding dunes. Today, visitors to the Cape Henry Lighthouse can climb to the top of the tower to enjoy spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
Useful Information: Stairs / elevator, Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Wilton, California
Level Contributor
1,353 reviews
670 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 794 helpful votes
“1st Federal Public Works Project!”
Reviewed October 12, 2013

This, first federal lighthouse, was constructed as Congressional Act #9. It is amazing it has withstood the 221 years of weather, only losing its top once. The 1880 replacement across the way is still in use. There are rock breaker walls on the shore to keep the beach intact. There is a small fee to climb the 191 steps to the top, for maintenance, which is entirely fair. It's also fair if you are going through an active military base that you have to deal with security, get used to it and be prepared. This national historical monument is really cool. It's hard to imagine a light that could be seen for 15 miles in the late 1790s. Great stop!

Visited October 2013
Thank ruthandvern
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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980 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
54 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Museum day visit”
Reviewed October 11, 2013

Visited for free on Smithsonian Museum day. It's a short climb up to the lighthouse and then another short climb to the top. Nice views of the ocean and bay! Nothing really special to see but I can't pass up free! Entering the base that houses the lighthouse was a bit annoying as you have to show proof of registration and insurance and everyone has to get out of the car so they can inspect it.

Visited September 2013
Thank Krakim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
50 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Good views from the top”
Reviewed October 7, 2013

Good views from the top of the lighthouse. There are many steps just to get to the base of the lighthouse so plan accordingly. There is a nice gift shop at the entrance to the lighthouse that has some items available that we did not see in other touristy type shops. The lighthouse is on a military base so be prepared to have your car searched, show ID and answer questions. You will be limited to the amount of time on base and where you can go, but you should have plenty time to climb the lighthouse.

Visited October 2013
Thank Gracie92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed September 28, 2013

Make sure you have everything in order. Be sure everyone has ID, you have current registration and proof of insurance. Don't ride bikes there unless ya have helmets. They are not interested in you being there and once you enter that gate you are in thier world. If they want to search your vehicle they can, if they want to be rude they can, if they want to delay you they can. I feel they should just restrict access because they are definitely not interested in accommodating tourist.

Visited September 2013
3 Thank MelissaLee284
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Walton, KY
Level Contributor
35 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Peaceful, nice views”
Reviewed September 27, 2013

The drive to Cape Henry is definitely worth it. The cape is very peaceful and provides excellent views where the Atlantic meets Chesapeake Bay. You do have to go through a complete car search on your way there, so be prepared for that delay.

Visited June 2013
Thank Greg R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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