Like its South End sister restaurant (and fellow Best of Boston winner), the Franklin Cape Ann has it made. Its wellpriced wine list, crazy-good cocktails, and New American fare are enhanced by its amiable spirit. Must-order items include the mixed grill daily assortment of meats, corn, and potatoes. 118 Main St., Gloucester, MA franklincafe.com/.
Ferreting out a well-made cocktail and inventive cuisine—minus the pretense—can be a tall order anywhere. Find them in a North Shore beach town at 11 p.m., and it's like striking gold. Discriminating night owls flock to the Franklin Cape Ann, northern sibling of the South End's much-loved Franklin Café; for hearty, affordable (read: under $25) dishes like pan-seared cod with oyster mushrooms and ginger, as well as a killer lineup of old-fashioned drinks. 118 Main St., Gloucester, MA 1930, franklincafe.com.
That's the brand, not the genre. We thought Vincent's were great. Then we tasted these. Superb.
A narrow beach used to connect Chappa-quiddick to Martha's Vineyard, but the sea breached the divide in 2007, and a 300-yard channel now separates thetwo. Don't let that deter you. Take the ferry from Edgartown and spend a day exploring "Chappy," which boasts 1,000 acres of preservation land. Sign up for the Cape Poge Lighthouse Tour, and a guide will pick you up at the ferry, drive you along the beach, and take you up into the lighthouse for sweeping views of the area. thetrustees.org.
The paper's Sunday "Pols and Politics" column—a breezy, biting collection of one-liners, tidbits, and anecdotes culled from the annals of the state's number-one spectator sport—is a must-read for political junkies.
No matter what the gift, this shop has the wrap. The racks of beautiful papers in every motif imaginable—from botanicals to gilt medieval prints—are a visual feast. What's more, the sheets are sold individually, so you don't get stuck with a half a roll of leftover paper. The card selection is terrific, too. 38 Charles Street, Boston, MA .
Pick up a $1 bill. Feel that rich, heavy texture? That's Crane & Company paper. The high-quality, 100 percent cotton construction has made Crane's paper the standard for elegant correspondence and very official documents (from legal wills to cold, hard cash) everywhere. Why should your wedding invitations be any different? This stationery can be easily customized: You choose the paper color, ink color, type style (most are classic, simple, and commanding), and whether you'd like the type engraved or thermographed. With tradition comes experience, and Crane's knowledgeable staff walks you through the entire process, from sending save-the-date cards to choosing additional embossings or designs. Prudential Center, Boston, MA crane.com/.
The Wequassett is the Cape's best resort hotel because of the plush accommodations, the Cape Cod National Golf Club, and the award-winning Twenty-Eight Atlantic restaurant (helmed by chef James Hackney, formerly of L'Espalier). But it's the little things that feel so special—like the vintage-style Good Humor truck that drives around delivering frozen treats to guests. 2173 Massachusetts 28, Harwich, MA 2645, wequassett.com.
From its creative workshops and tattooed employees to the epic collection of papers, every inch of the Art Store inspires creativity. The meticulously organized setting is the perfect place to lose track of time as you meander through wide aisles neatly packed with everything from standard paints, brushes, canvases, frames, journals, gifts, scrapbooks, and wrapping paper. Whether you're in the market for professional art supplies, a photo album, or rainy day children's games, the Art Store is the place to find your inner Degas. 401 Park Dr., Boston, MA .
Longnook Beach, Truro, part of the Cape's Outer Beach. Cape Cod, MA
In an effort to revive the lost art of everyday note-writing, Kate Kellman and Isabel Bonenfant founded Of Note Stationers, a small paper-goods company that prints simple, minimalist cards and stationery. The duo insists no occasion is too small for purposeful writing, and with simple messages like "Glad you’re here" and "I think of you often, and I want you to know" their cards prove that taking pen to paper isn’t just for birthdays. MA ofnotestationers.com.
The Cape does fried seafood really, really well. Beyond that; dining in the area can be hit-or-miss. Loire Valley expat Frederic Feufeu reels it in with authentic French bistro fare the likes of which the Cape has never seen: cassoulet with duck confit, poached foie gras au torchon, escargot in garlic butter. 10 Market St., Mashpee, MA 2649, bleurestaurant.com.
Only Philistines and acrophobes could fail to fall in love with this, the most rapturous among Cape Cod's many small inns. Part oasis, part museum, the property perches high above Gull Hill and peers over what seems like every crevice of Cape Cod. If you somehow get tired of the view, you can turn you attention to the luxuriant gardens and lavish collection of ornate late-19th-century antiques, Tiffany lamps, and statues. If it's free, book the Bay Tower Room which hovers above the sea, dunes, and miles of marsh; you'll feel like you're sleeping not just at the tip of the Cape, but on top of the world. 22 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA landsendinn.com/.
How many of the Cape's innumerable boat excursions actually let you participate? During this 90-minute cruise, passengers play with oceanographic equipment, pull lobster traps, and examine the chemistry of seawater. Departs from Waterfront Park, Woods Hole, MA oceanquest.org.
Shady motor inns might be quintessential Cape Cod, but we don't have to like 'em. So we're thrilled to see the old Cape Inn reborn as the Harbor Hotel, with a mod new look and superb amenities. Spend all day dipping your toes in the pool, then wiggle them in the sand while sitting by the fire pit. 698 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA 2657, harborhotelptown.com.