Before Hingham's 251-acre World's End peninsula became a stunning spot for picnickers, it was the proposed location for both the United Nations headquarters and a nuclear power plant. Luckily, those ideas failed. Today, the reservation property boasts wide fields, native fauna, 4-plus miles of tree-lined walking paths, and panoramic views of the city skyline and Hingham Harbor. Just add paper plates and homemade sandwiches for a dining experience to rival that of any swanky sidewalk café. ($4.50, 8 a.m.-sunset year round.) 250 Martin's Lane, Hingham, MA 2043, thetrustees.org.
For more than a decade, we’ve watched Kristyn Kerkorian climb the ladder of local event planning, following along as she went from helming catering sales at the Colonnade Hotel to throwing parties for the Red Sox to launching her own wedding-planning firm in 2017. But it’s not just the BU alum’s prestigious pedigree — or the fact that she successfully executed eight COVID-era celebrations — that stands out to us. We’re equally taken by her calming, down-to-earth demeanor (a godsend for anxious brides and grooms) and undeniable gift for design, evident in each meticulous tablescape, escort-card display, and floral arrangement she helps envision. kkerkorianevents.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.
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.
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.
Want a side of local color with your Devil's Purse pint? Pay a visit to this neighborhood hang, where Cape Cod memorabilia—from family crests to vanity plates—fills every inch of wall and ceiling space. It's not all about the kitsch, though: Bartenders behind the lacquered wooden bar aim to please, and the late-night menu satisfies with grub for both landlubbers (burgers) and seafarers (fish and chips). 38 Main St., Orleans, 508-255-5165; 429 Main St., Harwich Port, 508-430-0404; land-ho.com. 38 Main St., Orleans, MA 2653, land-ho.com.
Cape Cod sometimes feels as though it's sinking under the weight of its many ice cream shops, but Sundae School rises above with handmade, creamy flavors in such addictive permutations as espresso crunch, Kahlúa chip, and Bass River mud (coffee ice cream with fudge, almonds, and chocolate chunks). Add such toppings as fresh, plump blueberries, bananas, buttery hot fudge, homemade cream, and a fresh Bing cherry, and you've got more than just an ice cream treat. You've got a religious experience. 606 Main St. (Rte. 28), Harwichport, MA sundaeschool.com.
Vacationers can play it two ways as they settle into this welcoming, wood-filled space for a midday meal: fuel up for an afternoon of high-impact romping in the sand, or just plain fill up for several hours of indolence under the sun. For the former, there's leaner fare such as grilled chicken on Portuguese muffins and a salad with gorgonzola, walnut, and sun-dried cranberries. For the latter, choose from plus-size portions of clam chowder, crab cakes, fish and chips, and other Cape Cod classics—and enjoy the wistful glances from those sticking to moderation (poor things). 23 West Road, Orleans, MA 2653, beaconroom.com.
For the second year in a row, we've been unable to resist the delectable charms of Radius patissier Paul Connors. The mere mention of his name in Greater Boston sweet-tooth circles produces a range of reactions from barely audible moans to downright drools. Chef Connors' meal-ending treats are passionate, inspired, and sometimes even quirky: The guy is as adept at "candy cape mushroom ice cream sandwiches" as he is at classic creme brulee. And he's a team player: Connors' desserts are the perfect complement to executive chef Michael Schlow's elegant continental dishes, never overshadowing their savory flavors. Calling all pastry chefs: Consider the bar raised. 8 High Street, Boston, MA radiusrestaurant.com.