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Cape Henry Lighthouse

ca. 1792
583 Atlantic Ave., Fort Story, VA 23459


Make the Climb up Cape Henry Lighthouse

Tour the first federally funded lighthouse, next to the "First Landing" site where English settlers arrived in 1607. It has stood sentinel since it was completed in 1792. The Lighthouse was authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton. 

Plan Your Visit 

  • Self-guided Tour: 30 minutes for self-guided tour of tower and dune. 
  • Dune Talks: Interpreters discuss the history of the area and STEM related topics, including weather, ecology, geology and optics. 
  • First Landing NPS Site: Walk to the NPS site and see where the Battle of the Capes took place. 
  • Picnic Area: 2 picnic tables. 
  • Museum Store: Books and souvenirs available for purchase.

Please note: During the summer months, the temperature at the top of the tower can reach extreme levels. Cape Henry Lighthouse will close the tower when the heat index inside reaches 125°. We also close the tower during thunderstorms and when lightning has been spotted. Visitors will still be able to walk to the top of the dune and shop in the museum store. Winter weather advisories also may effect the opening of the lighthouse. If you have questions about closings call 757-422-9421. 

Summer is Heating up!

Experience New Walking Tours

You can now explore more than 400 years of the historic Cape Henry area surrounding the Lighthouse with our new walking tours! Tour stops include the Cape Henry Memorial where English settlers first landed and the new Cape Henry Lighthouse. Visitors will be able to climb the tower, take the walking tour or do both for one low price! 

View the following map to see all of the walking tour stops. 

Dune Restoration Begins this Fall

As an advocate for the preservation of historic places and resources across Virginia, Preservation Virginia is excited to announce that the restoration of the Cape Henry Lighthouse dune will begin this fall. The project includes stabilizing erosion, pouring a concrete platform to protect the base of the Lighthouse and installing educational signage. While the dune is undergoing restoration and the Lighthouse tower is inaccessible for climbing, our walking tours, Daily Dune Talks (at ground level) and special events will continue.

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting time at the Cape Henry Lighthouse!

Artist rendering of what the Cape Henry Lighthouse dune will look like after restoration. 

Visitor Information


January 3 - March 15: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

March 16 - October 31: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

November 1 - December 30: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Please note that tours stop 30 minutes prior to closing. 

Closed on Sunday, March 18 for the Shamrock Marathon, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day and New Years Eve, New Years Day and January 2. 


Preservation Virginia Members: Free (Become a Member)
General Admission: $10
Military, AAA and Seniors (60+): $9
Students:   $8 
Groups 10+: Call for info


Children age 6 and under can participate in walking tours for free.  


Block ticket for climbing and walking tour: $15

All climbers must be 42 inches tall

Group Tours:

Group tours are available at any time by arrangements made no less than one week in advance of the visit. 

Are you a tour bus operator? Click here to see how we can accomodate your next tour of Virginia Beach!

Special Event Rental:

Dune, Tower and Field Area: $100 per hour including set up and take down time. Max capacity for special events: 10 people in tower, 20 people on top of dune, and 200 people in field. The non-member fee is $75 (Annual individual membership fee is $50). All special events must take place outside of regular operating hours. A $300 deposit is required to secure the event date and will be returned within 60 days after the event.

Cancellation policy: Reservations may be cancelled up to 30 days prior to event date for a full refund of deposit. Any cancellations closer than 30 days prior to the event will result in forfeiture of the $300 deposit.

Additional Information

The Cape Henry Lighthouse is located within the fence line of the Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story military base. To visit the lighthouse, you must pass through the security gates of Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story at 89th Street and Atlantic Avenue.

Upon arrival to Gate 8, please inform the Security Guard of your intent to visit the Cape Henry Lighthouse. You will be directed to the Vehicle Inspection Station and asked to provide picture identification for all vehicle occupants over the age of 16, proof of vehicle registration (or rental agreement) and proof of insurance.

At the Vehicle Inspection Station, all guest vehicles are required to consent to a vehicle inspection in order to visit the lighthouse. You will also be asked to declare any contraband (i.e., weapons or illegal drugs). No firearms, weapons or illegal drugs are permitted on base. Failure to consent to a vehicle inspection or the possession of unauthorized contraband is cause for immediate denial for access onto the base.

While your vehicle is being inspected, you will be asked to exit the vehicle and the rules for accessing the Lighthouse and Cape Henry Memorial will be explained to you. Upon completion of the vehicle inspection, you will be issued a Visitor Pass and your picture ID will remain in the possession of the security guard while you are onboard the installation.

When you have completed your tour of the Lighthouse and Cape Henry Memorial, please return to the Vehicle Inspection Station to retrieve your ID and return your Visitor Pass.

For your safety and comfort, please observe the following rules for climbing Cape Henry Lighthouse:

  • You must be at least 42 inches tall to climb the lighthouse.
  • Children may not be carried up the steps.
  • Backpacks and frontpacks are not allowed on the staircase.
  • We strongly discourage flip-flops


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