Cape Henry Lighthouse

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In a Nutshell

Expert guides regale guests with tales of the lighthouse’s 200+ year-old past on tour that affords scenic ocean views

The Fine Print

Promotional value expires Oct 31, 2013. Amount paid never expires. Limit 5 per person. Limit 5 per visit. Valid only for option purchased. Must be 42" or taller. Visitors over 16 must provide photo ID for entry. Children may not be carried up stairs. Backpacks or frontpacks not permitted on stairs. Subject to weather; call ahead during rain or extreme heat. Max 20 people per tour group. Valid only at designated tour times. One week advance reservation required for groups of 12 or more. Must have proof of insurance and updated vehicle tags to enter base. Tour-guide gratuity not included. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.

Robert Frost could have used a local guide when he decided to take the road less traveled by, as he discovered only too late that it was patrolled by feral park rangers. Learn how a tour guide makes all the difference with this Groupon.

Choose Between Two Options

  • $8 for two walking tour tickets including tower admission (up to a $16 value). Tours run at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. seven days a week and, starting March 15, a 3 p.m. tour will also be available everyday.
  • $15 for four walking tour tickets including tower admission (up to a $32 value)

Experienced guides whisk visitors back in time through the lighthouse’s storied past, relaying historical anecdotes and pointing out significant sites from the lighthouse’s panoramic observation deck. Visitors to the 72-foot-tall Old Cape Henry Lighthouse enjoy a day amid the rich, salty Chesapeake Bay air, exploring a towering remnant of America’s early post-colonial government. Originally constructed from Aquia stone in 1792, the John McComb–designed structure was commissioned by Alexander Hamilton to protect important America-bound ships and incinerate incoming French snowballs. Today, budding historians traverse the lighthouse’s rustic environs, soundtracked by the rocky crash of waves and the insightful loquations of their friendly tour guide before clambering up the cast-iron spiral stairs and drinking in the lucky lantern’s daily view. Multiple Groupons may be purchased to provide a convenient group outing for families or feral packs of dog-boys. Tours shove off seven days a week beginning at 11 a.m. Check online for specific site closures.

Cape Henry Lighthouse

If Cape Henry Lighthouse was a history book, its authors would be two of the nation's founding fathers. President George Washington authorized the lighthouse's creation and Alexander Hamilton oversaw its construction in 1791. Renowned architect John McComb brought their vision to reality, finishing the job in 1792 to produce not just a lighthouse, but a symbol of how the fledgling American government could protect its citizens.

The lighthouse performed the role of protector beautifully. For nearly a century, it stood sentinel over the coasts of Virginia and Maryland to ensure the safety of incoming ships and giant bottles filled with hundreds of letters from Europe. The lighthouse was finally replaced in 1881, but it wasn't finished. In 1930, Preservation Virginia took over the building, giving the public access to climb its twisting iron stairs.

Today, families still gaze out from the observation deck, soaking in 360-degree views of the water and surrounding forests. Meanwhile the staff–most of whom have been guides for years–happily answer questions about the lighthouse's history.

Customer Reviews

Brin a bottle of water-there are 191 steps! Beautiful views.
Jacklyn R. · July 11, 2014
very interesting piece of hisory
Terese J. · June 3, 2014
Beautiful go a great bit of history
Beatrice H. · November 4, 2013

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