Hopple Popple founder Linda Matzkin and her daughter Abby Matzkin Gordon have the experience, eye for design, and romantic natures—not to mention respect for spending limits—to fashion truly dreamy weddings, be they barefoot-on-the-Cape or candlelight-at-the-Ritz affairs. 284 California St., Newton, MA 2158, hopplepopple.com.
Not every day on the Cape can be sunny and 72 degrees (shocking, we know). When the weather's lousy, head to this multipurpose Mashpee complex, which opened this past winter. There's bowling, a variety of brick-oven pizzas, and a huge selection of New England brews. If the clouds part, hit the outdoor bar for bocce and live music. 9 Greene St., Mashpee, MA lanesbowlandbistro.com.
Folks who come to this beloved local watering hole enjoy its outdoor patio and live music on weekends, and get an added bonus: They can walk into the adjoining restaurant, 65 Main, and pair the town's best burger with, say, a pint from Cape Ann Brewing Company. 65 Main St., Gloucester, MA dogbarcapeann.com.
Each summer, city dwellers of all stripes—sunbathing nonnas, bronzed Adonises, giddy teens—flock to this urban oasis, making it one of the top people-watching spots in town. Not to mention one of the best bargains: A season pass costs a mere $20. In other words, a whole lot less than a trip to the Cape. 475 Commercial St., Boston, MA 02109, boston.gov/community-centers.
Nestled inside a former textile factory, this alluring Pioneer Valley venue offers everything you’ll need for a killer party: a talented catering team to prepare your wedding feast, access to scenic outdoor areas for endless photo ops, and a much-needed bridal suite for when you need a break from schmoozing with guests. Dress up either of the Boylston Rooms’ function spaces with your choice of décor, or simply let the celebration spots speak for themselves: Effortlessly cool with swaths of white-painted brick and oversize windows, the high-ceilinged rooms are already rich in character. 122 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA boylstonroom.com.
This is where to go after you've checked that shiny new Rolex (which Royal doesn't carry) off your wish list and are ready to start building a collection around more-exotic lines. Since 1948, the family-run business has catered to aficionados with hundreds of models from top brands like Ulysse Nardin and Vacheron Constantin—both exclusive to Royal in the Boston area—and an in-house repair service. Plus, the excellent salespeople don't work on commission, so feel free to take your sweet time. 58 Main St., Andover, MA 1810, royaljewelers.com.
Even in the dead of winter, this South End French-Vietnamese restaurant is as steamy as a night in Saigon. With its red-tinted walls, decorations imported straight from Southeast Asia, and sexy cocktails cheekily served in bamboo-etched tumblers under paper umbrellas, Pho Republique is a passport to revelry. Thanks to the generous reservations policy, parties large and small can reserve long tables perfect for sharing steamed bowls of aromatic pho or the must-have tuna spring rolls. The waitstaff handles such groups with Zen-like aplomb, keeping drinks fresh, plates full, and every diner happy. 1415 Washington Ave., Boston, MA .
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 aren't ones to cry over spilt milk, as our floors can attest; our couch has more hair on it than our cat. Without a speck of judgment, the Maids clean up our act month after month, dusting baseboards, degriming showers, and all but eliminating any traces of pet (except for, of course, the pet itself). They're quick, well priced, and unobtrusive: Aside from the preternatural sparkle and neatly triangled toilet paper, you'd never know they'd been there. maids.com.
Refreshingly chic silhouettes from Olian, Ripe, Paper Denim, and Inca Mama are enough to recommend Helena's. So are the racks of nonmaternity styles, which include tees by Johnny Was and trapeze tops by Tulle that can be repurposed by those with baby bumps (instantly dressing up, say, a pair of Gap Maternity stretch pants). What puts Helena's over the top, however, is its location, flanked by like-minded businesses Wild Child (see above) and Isis Maternity. In one fell swoop, moms-to-be can purchase a come-hither cocktail dress, sign up for a prenatal yoga class, and test-drive the stroller of the moment. 397 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA 2474, .
This is just to say that the apology note you left on the fridge didn't quite cut it, and the person whose sweet, cold plums you scarfed down is profoundly annoyed. Next time, put those words of remorse—or thanks, or affection—on something that gives them a bit more weight. At cornucopian paper shop Scribe, choose from scores of distinctive cards (Smudge Ink, B Designs) and refined stationery from the likes of Boatman Geller. If a gift is required, there are fragrant Seda France candles, Heather Moore jewelry, plus purses, pens, and more. (But sorry: no replacement plums.) 84 Washington St., Marblehead, MA 1945, .
Amid a flurry of cleaning services catering to on-the-go urbanites, the Jamaica Plain outpost of this national operation shows an unbeatable blend of polish and professionalism. After setting the appointment and sending an e-mail confirmation, your cleaning team will arrive armed with grime-busting equipment and a dozen sprays, as well as a rigorous 22-step plan for restoring your home's sparkle. The Maids will even pick up and drop off your keys at work—another excellent reason to fork over the $159 fee, which is lowered if you book monthly follow-ups. 179 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, .
Some Sunday mornings require a little time spent catching up with our favorite sister, bloody mary. And the best place to find her in these parts is at the East Coast Grill. The bloody mary bar here goes beyond the traditional to offer tipplers a choice of ingredients—citrus squeezes, herbs, spices, vegetables, and hot sauces—to add to their base of vodka and tomato juice. From there you can get to the next order of business: pulling up to a hearty plate of grilled sausages, tropical fruit pancakes, a fluffy avocado—black bean—salsa omelet, cornbread-crusted French toast, and the Sunday paper. 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA eastcoastgrill.net/.
It's hard to decide what's best about this cozy South End bakery, where the owners have thought of every amenity for busy city dwellers. Is it the a.m. treats? The lunch? The cute tables that overlook Appleton Street? The gourmet take-out options? The catering? When push comes to shove, we choose the scandalousy delicious breakfast goodies: scones to cry over, fruit-studded muffins, old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake, and granola that could put a commune out of business. We could go on, but our trainer says no. 123 Appleton Street, Boston, MA appletoncafe.com/.