The 157-foot Cape Henry Lighthouse is a decommissioned lighthouse located in Cape Henry on the southeastern shores of Virginia, where the Chesapeake meets the Atlantic.
The lighthouse was an important navigational aid for maritime traffic, and it was dubbed the “Guardian of the Chesapeake." It was originally built in 1792 for approximately $18,000. Damaged by Confederate forces during the Civil War, the lighthouse was later repaired by Union troops. It was decommissioned in 1881 after concerns were raised about the overall stability of the structure, and a new lighthouse, which is still in use today, was built adjacent to the current lighthouse.
To enter the lighthouse, you first must pass through the gift shop. It's $8 per person to actually visit the lighthouse. The base of the lighthouse can only be reached by a large flight of stairs outside.
At the base of the lighthouse there are coin-operated binoculars, attendants with history presentations, and a few benches. To get to the top of the lighthouse, you must first climb the 191-foot spiral staircase. The last staircase ascends through a small opening, so large backpacks are not advised.
The lighthouse now sits inside Fort Story, an active military base. To visit, you'll need to pass through a security checkpoint, consent to a vehicle search, and show government-issued ID for anyone over 16 years old.