Cape Charles is a charming town located in Northampton County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The town sits on a small peninsula bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and is around an hour’s drive from Virginia Beach.
The town was officially founded in 1884 and is the largest of Northampton’s five incorporated towns with approximately 1,000 residents.
Despite its small size, Cape Charles is a popular destination for tourists, who come to enjoy its beautiful beaches, quaint downtown area, historic architecture, and laid-back lifestyle. The town’s location on the Chesapeake Bay makes it an ideal destination for swimming, kayaking, boating, and fishing.
Cape Charles Town Beach is the only public beach on the Eastern Shore that doesn’t require fees. You can find a fishing pier and a Virginia LOVEworks sign at one end of the beach.
Cape Charles, Virginia’s historic downtown area, has shops, restaurants, and galleries. The downtown area is centered around Mason Avenue, lined with vibrant storefronts and brick-paved sidewalks.
You can browse shops and boutiques that offer everything from handmade jewelry and pottery to vintage clothing and home decor.
There are also a variety of restaurants in the downtown area, ranging from casual cafes and bakeries to upscale seafood restaurants and wine bars.
The Historic Palace Theatre also hosts live performances and film screenings throughout the year.
Cape Charles Brewing Co. is a popular brewery and restaurant located near the heart of downtown. They offer a wide selection of craft beers, delicious food, and a lively atmosphere that is perfect for a night out with friends or family.
Once a Cape Charles icon, the Cape Charles Lighthouse is in bad shape and is no longer maintained. In 1963, the lighthouse Fresnel lens was removed and donated to the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News. Once removed, the lighthouse ran on an automated system by the Coast Guard from Portsmouth, Virginia. In 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard abandoned the lighthouse, no longer aiding in ship navigation. Visiting the lighthouse on Smith Island is no longer recommended and can only be reached by boat.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.