Adventure is hardly the word that comes to mind when visiting Virginia Beach, but adventure can be found almost anywhere, you just have to look for it. It’s easy to miss something off the beaten path amid the advertisements for parasailing, dolphin watching, and bar-hopping (not that there’s anything wrong with any of those activities). However, I was looking for something a little different.  I found that something different at Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story, just 5 miles north of all of the chaos of Virginia Beach.


Some people may skip this trip because you have to present identification and submit to a search of your vehicle, but it is well worth the wait. To my delight, there were exactly five cars in the parking lot, and even fewer people on the Fort Story Beaches!  The brown-bricked Cape Henry lighthouse, built in 1792, still retains much of its original character, including an incredibly narrow wrought-iron spiral staircase. The reward after climbing up 180 steps, up a narrow wooden ladder, and through an opening barely big enough to squeeze through, is a breathtaking view of Cape Henry. The settlers from Jamestown once landed here, before sailing up the James River 1607. Even more amazing, George Washington once stood in this very spot at the top of the lighthouse and looked out over Cape Henry.