Call it whatever you want—the Puppy Palace, the Kitty Kastle—no euphemism will ever fool pets into believing a kennel is as good as their own bed (or yours). But when you just can't bring them along on the family trip to Cabo, this is the next best thing. Indoor and outdoor play spaces, trained staffers, and stimuli aplenty make for boarding that's almost fun; at-home visits cater to the finicky, moody, or antisocial. Plus, the DogScoop's handy pickup/drop-off service makes coaxing Cupcake into the car or crate their problem, not yours. 216 Webster St., Newton, MA 2465, thedogscoop.com.
Anatomy of a Winner: Contained on a paper-lined tray (and scattered on the reclaimed wood table) is barbecue bliss, as follows. 1. A variety of house-made hot sauces lets you dress your meat as you please. 2. Fist-size biscuits are sinfully buttery and flaky. 3. Thirst-quenching cocktails come in a mason jar. 4. The crunchy "farm salad" provides welcome relief from the richness of the meat—and from the 5. cheesy, crumb-topped broccoli casserole. 6. The main event, the pork ribs, are smoky and tender. 7. Old-school accoutrements include pickles, shaved white onion, and squishy white bread, all of which balance the heat. 1381 Boylston St., Boston, MA sweetcheeksq.com.
We’ve been there countless times: We want one last cuddle with Fido before leaving for vacation, but instead he wriggles out of our hands like an eager camper, more than ready to sniff butts and play with his buddies. These are the moments when pet parenting can be slightly heartbreaking (My puppy! He’s all grown up!). When Urban Hound is hosting him for the weekend, however, that goodbye is a little easier to handle: The luxury accommodations at the pet hotel and daycare facility—which features two indoor play parks and 1,000 square feet of outdoor space—are matched only by the fantastic trainers and staff, who are more than qualified to play in loco petrentis. 129 Malden St., Boston, MA 2118, urbanhounds.com.
Trade your mimosas for margaritas at this brunch hot spot, which serves up creative Mexican cuisine with a Cape twist (see: the quahog rellenos and chipotle-laced lobster bisque). Dine beneath a centuries-old weeping beech tree at the Hyannis outpost, or sit back and people-watch, Paloma in hand, from the Falmouth location’s patio — either way, you’ll find a fun atmosphere that makes every Sunday feel like a party. Multiple locations. anejo.cc.
Come for the view, stay for the vibe, order the seafood. That’s all you need to know to enjoy an evening at Fishermen’s View, situated on the canal in Sandwich. Opened in 2016 by brothers and fishermen Bob and Denny Colbert, the menu emphasizes fresh, local catch, most of it unloaded at the docks below the restaurant. An inviting atmosphere awaits on the patio in the warmer months with live music and an outdoor bar, but sunsets over the canal (accompanied by stuffed Cape Cod cherrystones or a lobster "knuckle" sandwich) are sweet any month of the year. 20 Freezer Rd., Sandwich, MA 02563, fishermensview.com.
Don’t ask Cape Ann’s well-coiffed denizens about Heather Murray’s Gloucester salon, a modern space that belies its charming Victorian exterior. Everyone wants to keep the seasoned hairstylist’s magic hands (and scissors) to themselves. Cuts are sharp without being too trendy, and color is natural, not forced, just like Kyla Salon’s atmosphere. 33 Pleasant St., Gloucester, MA 01930, kylasalon.com.
When President John F. Kennedy established the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961, he effectively curbed future development in the area. The preexisting Beachcomber, howeverhoused in an 1897 former lifesaving stationwas allowed to keep one of the few commercial permits available on the Atlantic-facing coast. So the next time you’re slurping Wellfleets, enjoying live music, or sipping a piña colada at this popular spot, toast JFK for the special setting and views of the open ocean. 1120 Cahoon Hollow Rd., Wellfleet, MA 2667, thebeachcomber.com.
Sundae School started as a mom-and-pop operation—and a reason for founders Paul and Andrea Endres, then living in Milton, to spend their summers on the Cape. Three decades and three stores later, it's a full-time family affair (at some point, each of the Endreses' five kids has worked behind the counter). The shop's celebrated ice cream is made fresh, and in limited amounts; among the most heavenly flavors are sweet cream, ginger, créme de menthe chip, and any of the berry blends. 606 Main St., Route 28, Harwich Port, MA 2646, sundaeschoolicecream.com.
Opened with the money earned from a dish-washing job by a guy who started surfing on the Cape when he was 5, the Pump House has surf attitude. All the salespeople surf, of course; most wear board shorts in the store, whose back wall is stacked with 100 boards ready to throw on top of the VW and take to the nearest beach, five minutes away. The Pump House also offers rentals, repairs, and lessons, and sells apparel, Frisbees, and the wetsuits that are standard gear for any true New England surfer. 9 Cranberry Highway (Rte. 6A), Orleans, MA pumphousesurf.com/.
Just as hot dogs are a Fenway favorite, it would be silly to skip clams on Cape Cod. And among the dozens of small shacks, Arnold's remains a standout. This quality-conscious spot now has a dining room and screened-in patio—as well as lengthy lines (it's worth the wait, though). Prepare to get messy while scarfing Wellfleet oysters, lobster rolls, and, of course, the famous Arnold's fried clams. 3580 State Hwy. (Rte. 6), Eastham, MA arnoldsrestaurant.com/.
Massages and facials are delightful—until they cut into your precious sun time, that is. Thankfully, the Spa at the Chatham Bars Inn offers the best of both worlds. The facility's outdoor plunge pool, surrounded by lush gardens, is a tranquil way to take in the beauty of the Cape after an aah-inducing rubdown. Al fresco treatments in private cabanas, meanwhile, maximize the therapeutic benefits of the great outdoors. 297 Shore Road, Chatham, MA 2633, chathambarsinn.com.
Leave your car on the Cape. Nantucket’s iconic harborfront resort, and its well-appointed rooms, are no more than 10 minutes from anyplace you’d want to go: Young’s for bikes, the Juice Bar for ice cream, the beach and ferry, too. And if you’re looking for the best on-island massage, you don’t even have to leave the building. 50 Easton St., Nantucket, MA 02554, whiteelephanthotel.com.
There's finally authentic Mexican on the Upper Cape thanks to this bustling spot in Falmouth Center, which skips the gimmicks and gloppy cheese in favor of fresh, local seafood and a creative Sunday brunch menu with a twist—and a kick. Go for the gloriously runny eggs Benedict topped with smoky braised pork and chipotle hollandaise, or French toast laced with tequila-fried bananas. Bonus: Kids get a free chocolate taco (you might, too, if you ask politely). 188 Main St., Falmouth, MA 02540, anejomexicanbistro.com.
Save the formal service and immaculate silverware for your power lunches in the city. On the Cape, you want to grab something fast and friendly—and then head right back outside. At Blue Willow, the ingredients are fresh, the sandwiches inventive, and the baked goods all made from scratch. Our superlative midday meal: the signature grilled chicken and Brie panini followed by a fudgy, walnut-studded 'outrageous' brownie. 1426 Route 6, Wellfleet, MA 2663, .
This is the site to hit before you go anywhere. Updated every few minutes, SmarTraveler.com offers information about tie-ups on local roads and the MBTA. Even better than the concise written alerts are the live video feeds form problem-prone paces like the Central Artery, the Cape Cod bridges, and Route 128. The picture quality is good, though you can't quite discern drivers' obscene hand gestures as they back up on Storrow.