The Martin's formula—cozy atmosphere plus simple, delicious food—lures regulars out of bed to feast on crisp veggie omelets, buttery-rich French toast, and grilled muffin specials (the oatmeal cinnamon is stellar). Paper mats and crayons top the wooden tables, and the waitstaff often plucks up the best drawings and tacks them to the diner's bulletin boards. Despite repeated attempts, we've never made the wall, but we'll happily continue to get full trying. 49 Railroad St., Great Barrington, MA 2351, .
Miss your adolescence? The Formica booths at Little Stevie's aren't just seats, they're time machines that sweep you right back to braces, babysitting money, and after-school specials. And the pizza's right there with you: pillowy, bubbly, and doughy edges with a paper-thin and oven-charred crust, sweet and tangy tomato sauce, and a hot, dense layer of mozzarella. Say what you will about teen angst; pie this good makes it all seem worthwhile. 1114 Boylston St., Boston, MA littlestevespizzeria.com/.
This is what you might call seafood in the rough: You stand at the counter, shout your order, eat it, and leave. But paper plates and plastic cutlery aside, there's very little that's actually rough about Woodman's, which offers some of the smoothest fried seafood around. The breading isn't a disguise for a small and salty chunk of meat, as it is at lesser seafood shacks, but a crispy golden complement to the tender bivalves beneath. 121 Main St., Essex, MA woodmans.com/.
Some suburban day spas, catering as they often do to busy moms, have entirely missed the point of an escape: A noisy cut and blow-dry during a massage is not relaxing. But the Lexington outpost of Bella Santé gets the pampering thing down perfectly with imported teas, soothing music, and peaceful treatment rooms. And, of course, one-at-a-time services that are stress free. 76 Bedford St., Lexington, MA bellasante.com/.
At a resort, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. But not here, where a personal concierge caters to your whims. That's a welcome addition to the Ocean Edge, which has undergone $50 million in renovations to its villas, mansion rooms, and restaurants. So now you get the coddling you'd expect from a boutique hotel, plus smart touches like a fridge stocked with ice cream and all the fixin's for s'mores if you book a villa. 2907 Main St., Brewster, MA oceanedge.com.
Too often, South Shore diners are stuck in that wasteland between kid-friendly chains and adult-only, white-tablecloth restaurants. Enter Wahlburgers, the brainchild of chef Paul Wahlberg. From classic double cheeseburgers to creative specialty sandwiches (like the "Thanksgiving," with ground turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce), this place caters to kids and more-refined palates alike. Of course, the creamy frappes will gratify all generations. 19 Shipyard Drive, Hingham, MA 2043, wahlburgers.com.
The Four Seasons' lounge caters to both sorts of solo patrons: those who find themselves alone, and those who wish to be left alone. The skilled barkeeps are the city's quickest studies of stag drinkers, able to gauge whether you're up for a chat, a snack, or a stiff drink and silence. And the Bristol's cozy appointments make it perfectly suited to parties of one. 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, .
Catering to the "thoughtful pet owner" this colorful store functions more like a community hub for animals and their devoted humans than a place to buy supplies. It wouldn’t be unusual to pop in for treats, toys, or food—all of which skew heavily natural—or to wash a dirty pup in the self-serve tubs, and end up chatting with fellow customers about a nontoxic cure for hot spots, a topic that only other pet owners will gladly discuss. 4404 Washington St., Roslindale, MA 02131, thepetcabaret.com.
The essentials for a good night’s sleep don’t change with the trends. Since 1987, this Beacon Hill store has been catering to our restful needs with high-thread-count bedding from established brands like Yves Delorme and Sferra, plush robes from Laurence Tavernier, and silk pajamas from PJ Harlow. And to make your waking hours a little dreamier, it also stocks a selection of scented soaps and soft Egyptian-cotton towels. 52 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114, linensonthehill.com.
On the strength of its individual exhibits alone—notably the vast Goya retrospective and Shinique Smith's exuberant showcase—the Museum of Fine Arts is a formidable contender for best museum. But when you consider the institution's past year as a whole, it's a hands-down winner. Diverse offerings revealed a commitment to pushing boundaries. Performance art was regularly integrated into the museum's hallowed gallery spaces; it maintained a consistently edgy and eclectic film program; and then, as a capper, it launched its first-ever mobile app as artwork. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, mfa.org.
In a town with no shortage of gussied-up patties, we keep returning to the workday-only Wheelhouse burger. The griddle sizzles coffee-crusted breakfast burgers and other beef patties loaded with lunch fixings like jalapeño-beer cheese and bourbon-glazed onions. Wax-paper sleeves barely contain such marvelous hot messes, gobbled at window stools or back in the cubicle. 63 Broad St., Boston, MA wheelhouseboston.com.
The brunch at this record shop/tapas bar caters to savory seekers—and hangover chasers. Here the "put an egg on it" philosophy reigns supreme, evidenced by dinner-menu staples like the lamb bocadillo, which gets the morning-after huevos treatment come brunch. While you're waiting for your table (there will be a wait), browse the back bookshop for fiction, art books, vinyl, and a broad collection of food magazines that will surely whet your appetite. 470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, tresgatosjp.com.
When it comes to bar pizza on the South Shore, there are important standards to meet. Are the to-go pies placed between two cardboard plates and slid into a brown paper bag? Is the crust hand-pinched in the pan to give it the perfect crunch? Is the joint cash only? And, most important: Do the locals love it? Lynwood checks all the boxes. For bar pizza the way it’s meant to be experienced, commit to the house special, which comes loaded with baked beans (trust us), onions, and salami. 320 Center St., Randolph, MA 2368, lynwoodcafe.com.
The sister property to the iconic White Elephant harborfront hotel, this luxe resort caters to guests’ every whim: Need a ride to dinner? A loaner bike to explore the island? Scoops of ice cream to keep the kids entertained at the pool? Done, done, and done. The circa-2012 inn offers plush rooms and suites, but for a picture-perfectand stress-freefamily getaway, you’ll want to reserve one of the spacious " premier residences," which offer one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations. 19 N. Water St., Nantucket, MA 2584, whiteelephantvillage.com.
Yes, there's loads of ice on hand here, in the form of Patek Philippe timepieces and Henry Dunay necklaces, but the warm and patient service at Dorfman will thaw any notion that buying big-time bling is a daunting endeavor. In business for seven decades and counting, the family-owned jeweler caters to both Beacon Hill bluebloods and a younger, funkier clientele with diamonds and pearls aplenty, vintage-inspired house lines, and New England's only Van Cleef & Arpels salon. 24 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, .