Built in 1791-92, this picturesque brick structure was the first lighthouse authorized by the U.S. Congress. It marked the southern entrance to Chesapeake Bay until 1881, when the "new" lighthouse across the road took over. If you're in shape, you can climb the 191 steps to the top for a spectacular view over Cape Henry, the bay, and the ocean. The gift shop carries a plethora of lighthouse-themed items.
Also across the road, the Jamestown colonists' First Landing Site is marked by a cross and plaque where they "set up a Crosse at Chesapeake Bay and named that place Cape Henry" for Henry, Prince of Wales. Also here are a monumental relief map showing the French and British naval engagement off Cape Henry during the Revolutionary War and a statue of the French commander. Now known as the Battle Off the Capes, this decisive battle effectively trapped Cornwallis at Yorktown and helped end British dominion in America.
Note: You must be more than 4 feet tall to climb the lighthouse. This is all part of the U.S. Army's Fort Story, so everyone 18 and over will need a photo ID to access the fort's historic area, and your car will likely be searched.