Friday Postcards from the Cape Henry Lighthouse


 As many of you might have noticed, my youngest son Ty and I were hanging out on Virginia Beach this week. Although we could have easily sat on the beach for three days, I wanted to do a little exploring. Ty had never been to a lighthouse and the Cape Henry Lighthouse was just down the road from our hotel. It seemed like an easy thing we could both enjoy together. In theory it was. In actuality, well it was a little something different.

My Google Maps app pointed me in the right direction. Suddenly I was pulling up to a military checkpoint. I rolled down my window to ask the man dressed in fatigues with a gun if this was the way to the lighthouse. He smiled and said, yes it is. We had to go through inspection to see it though. Apparently the Cape Henry Lighthouse, although sitting on a small bit of public land, is actually on a military base.


Ty and I went through our first military inspection together. I can’t remember the last time I was on a base, so I fumbled around as the very nice officer asked me for my license, insurance and registration. I had to pop the hood (I’m embarrassed to say he had to help me find that button as I always forget where it is!), open all the doors and step out to talk to another officer, while officer number three used a mirror to look under my car. All the while Ty was trying to chat with officer number one and also, still stuck in his car seat, reaching for me to get him out.

Five minutes later Ty and I were cruising down the road at a cool 25mph to see the lighthouse. We pulled up, got out of the car and then read the sign. You had to be 42 inches tall to walk to the top. Ty is not 42 inches tall. We couldn’t even go to the base to look up unless he hit the height requirement. It was a bit extreme if you ask me, but the gateway to the lighthouse is through a little office, so it is easier to control who goes up than to have a larger staff manning the office and the interior of the lighthouse. I don’t imagine there is much air conditioning in that lighthouse, so it does make sense not to have a staff member sweating it out in the 100 degrees plus humidity all summer.

We didn’t get to go to the top of the Cape Henry Lighthouse, but we did gaze up at this historic structure (the first federally funded lighthouse, completed in 1792). It stood for over a century before it’s “newer” cast iron lighthouse brother was erected across the street. Down the street from the lighthouses we were able to walk up to a viewing platform that looks over Cape Henry, the beach where the first English settlers stepped foot on the New World in 1607. Here they erected a cross to thank God and stake their claim to the land. Since the beach is on military land, we couldn’t play in the water, but we could look for dolphins and watch as the ships motored by. Next stop? First Landing State Park, where we would soak up a few more facts about those first settlers and see where the Chesapeake Bay flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.



Friday Postcards

READ FIRST: Welcome to Friday Postcards, a place where I will share a small memory or “postcard” moment from our travels. I hope you will join me too. Link your favorite photo-driven post here if you have a blog so we can share the joys of traveling with each other. If you would like to spread the word, please link back to this post in your own post so others will know where to find a little travel inspiration to end their week. #fridaypostcards

All spam will be deleted immediately.

Cape-Henry-Lighthouse Cape-Henry-Lighthouse Cape-Henry-Lighthouse Cape-Henry-Lighthouse

Recommended Posts
Showing 6 comments
  • Emily S

    So unfortunate that after all that (the checkpoint) you couldn’t even get up close to the lighthouse! Hope you can go back again another day when he’s a bit taller 🙂

  • eileen g

    what a funny looking lighthouse, and I can’t quite say why. I think it’s the stripes that give a modular look. It takes a second to realize what it is. very cool.

  • Reply

    Beautiful photos! I’ve always loved visiting lighthouses and these two are great. I hope you get to go back and go in and to the top next time.

  • Reply

    I hope that Ty enjoyed the close military inspection. I imagine that the two of you didn’t look very suspicious, but I guess it’s just standard protocol. I really like the photo at the end with the two lighthouses together. I’m glad they didn’t tear down the original one but let it keep standing.

  • Reply

    I love lighthouses and there are some great ones on the east coast. We got to see quite a few when we were in the Outer Banks a few weeks ago. Looks like you had a great time!

  • Jonny Blair

    Marvellous photos here of the lighthouses. My personal favourite lighthouse was in Taiwan, at Eluanbi. Magnificent buildings and hugely under-rated both in architecture and significance. Safe travels. Jonny

Leave a Comment

Fort Wayne with kidsOmni Bedford Springs Resort Exterior