The Cape Henry Lighthouse, the First Landing Cross and more are at Fort Story in Virginia Beach
My first visit to the Cape Henry Lighthouse happened when I was six years old. This vague memory includes a lot of stairs ending with a steep ladder. Six-year-old me freaked out and couldn’t make it to the top. My older brother and sister of course made me feel horrible by bragging about the incredible view. It has been many years since then, and it has always been on my bucket list to make it to the top of the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Spring Break this year presented a perfect opportunity. I decided to take my niece and two nephews to Virginia Beach’s Fort Story to get a slice of history and an afternoon of fun.
Come for the History
Cape Henry Lighthouse and Fort Story are significant to Virginia Beach history, and indeed Coastal Virginia. In 1607, this site saw the first landing of three English ships—the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, led by Captain Christopher Newport. Upon landing, they erected a wooden cross and gave thanks to God before heading up the James River to what would become Jamestown. The wooden cross is long gone, but there is now a granite cross that marks this historic event.
The Cape Henry Lighthouse is itself a piece of American history. It’s one of the oldest lighthouses in the U.S. It was commissioned by George Washington himself, and was completed in 1792. For almost one hundred years it watched over the coastal waters before being replaced by a cast iron lighthouse which stands nearby.
The waters off Fort Story also saw a pivotal Revolutionary War battle between the British and French which cut off supplies to General Cornwallis. The lack of supplies led to his surrender just a few months later.
What to Expect When You Visit
A visit to Fort Story and the Cape Henry Lighthouse will be an experience your family will love! But you should come prepared. Fort Story is a military base! This is very important to remember when you visit. Keep the following things in mind:
•Enter Fort Story at the Gate Access point on Atlantic Avenue (my GPS took me to the wrong gate, but a nice guard gave me directions to the correct entrance)
•Everyone over 16 years of age will need an ID
•Bring the registration for the vehicle you are driving
•Be prepared for security to search your car
•Everyone needs to be exit the car while the search takes place
•Lines at the security checkpoint can get long, be prepared to wait to enter
•During the summer, temperatures inside the lighthouse can be very high. The tower will close if it reaches 105° F
583 Atlantic Avenue
Fort Story, VA 23459
$6 (children 12 & under)
First Landing Cross: