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A Tank Away

A quiet enclave on the Cape

A place to take it slow, far from the summer crowds

Originally built in 1797 and reconstructed in 1857, Cape Cod Highland Light is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. Originally built in 1797 and reconstructed in 1857, Cape Cod Highland Light is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File)
By Jenn Abelson
Globe Staff / August 3, 2011

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TRURO - Most visitors to Cape Cod breeze through Truro without a second look on their way to the prize at the tip: Provincetown. But break off a bit earlier for this quiet enclave, and you will find miles of pristine beaches, the Cape’s oldest lighthouse, a winery, and gourmet ice cream shops serving up treats like Bacon Dark Chocolate. Truro attracts an eclectic mix of artists, musicians, writers, and foodies who celebrate nature’s beauty at a slow pace far from the mid-Cape congestion.

STAY

Truro offers a bevy of tiny beachfront cottages with sweeping views, small inns and motels, and gorgeous houses nestled in the woods. The Moorlands Inn (11 Hughes Road, www.themoorlands.com, 508-487-0663) boasts a grand old Victorian guest house that was built at the turn of the century by the great-great-uncle of the present owners, Skipper Swords Evaul and her husband, artist Bill Evaul. The property includes the house, carriage house, a barn, croquet court, and 20 acres of land stretching to Cape Cod Bay. Prices for rooms start at roughly $175 a night and have not changed since 2005. For a bit more privacy and beach access, check out Sandbars in North Truro (570 Shore Road, www.sandbars.com, 508-487-8700). The property has 16 modern guestrooms on a private beach. Rooms without water views start at $229 in August and most feature kitchenettes.

DINE

You don’t have to go far in Truro to find great food. Terra Luna (104 Shore Road, theterraluna.com, 508-487-1019, entrees $18-$34) offers fine dining in an all-wood barn with a relaxed atmosphere. Favorite selections include grilled figs stuffed with goat cheese and seafood fra diavolo. For a more low-key affair, check out the big red building housing Savory & Sweet Escape (316 Route 6, 508-487-2225, pizzas $9.95-$22.95, desserts $3-$7). Located right off the main drag, Sweet Escape offers tasty cheap pizzas, hot panini with fun names like Calamity Jane and The Godmother Italian, salads, and subs. Make sure to leave room for dessert because, in truth, it’s the main attraction. Adventurous palates will enjoy flavors like Bacon Dark Chocolate, Ginger White, Lavender Fig, and Pomegranate Dark Chocolate. And yes, there’s Cookie Dough for traditionalists.

DURING THE DAY

Trekking through Truro is the highlight here. There are miles of hiking and biking trails, endless sandy stretches, rolling moors, and hidden valleys. Longnook Beach (off Longnook Road) is by far a favorite with crashing waves, huge dunes, and sweeping views. Those seeking a calmer excursion should head to Corn Hill Beach on the Bay Side. Backed by a long, low dune, the beach here decreases considerably as the tide comes in. In the afternoon, shake off the sand and head to a tasting tour at Truro Vineyards (11 Shore Road, trurovineyardsofcapecod.com, 508-487-6200). Tastings are $8 and include five wines and a souvenir wine glass. Free tours are available at 1 p.m. through early September. Those seeking a dose of history and culture can check out the Cape Cod Highland Lighthouse (www.capecodlight.org, 508-487-1121) and Highland House Museum (27 Highland Light Road, www.trurohistorical.org, 508-487-1121). The two attractions are located on the same stretch of Highland Light Road. Originally built in 1797 and reconstructed in 1857, Cape Cod Highland Light is the oldest lighthouse on the Cape and was, at one time, the most powerful light on the Atlantic Coast. Stroll from the lighthouse to the observation deck at the edge of the cliff. The Highland House Museum offers insight into the lives of the people of Truro dating to the Native Americans and early European settlers and features collections of costumes and household furnishings.

AFTER DARK

Start the weekend early with Truro’s summer concert series on Thursday evenings on the Village Green. Most concerts start at 6:30 and upcoming performers include Dick Solberg, the Sun Mountain Fiddler; X Cape; and Magic of Steel. The Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill (10 Meetinghouse Road, castlehill.org, 508-349-7511), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, sponsors lectures, concerts, and artist receptions throughout the summer. The arts center is hosting several coveted events, including a Slow Food Dinner with famed food writer Ruth Reichl on Aug. 15, and a poetry festival on Aug. 17. For livelier entertainment, you will need to leave town - head up to Provincetown for bars, back to Wellfleet for movies.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson@globe.com.