Overflowing pints of Bass and Guinness, live entertainment including Karaoke Tuesdays, the obligatory logo-embroidered polos for sal—smack in the center of Chatham, the often rowdy Squire is the quintessential Cape pub. Weekend nights host a medley of thirsty characters; stick around long enough, and you've got good odds of witnessing unlikely, though not altogether uncommon, end-of-the-evening trysts between local anglers and summering society types. 487 Main St., Chatham, MA 2633, .
Even overcast days at Chatham Bars Inn feel sunny. First, there's the setting: a graceful, 1914 building overlooking the Atlantic, surrounded by quiet, individually decorated (and kitsch-free) cottages. Second, there are the activities: croquet, tennis, biking, rides in the property's antique cars, or, for kids, shoreline critter hunts, pirate visits, and karaoke. The nightly candelit dinners of local seafood at the water's edge are almost absurdly romantic. Few properties on Cape Cod manage to balance kid-friendliness with that kind of genuine excellence. This one does—even when it rains. 297 Shore Rd., Chatham, MA chathambarsinn.com/.
When this hypnotically arty restaurant-bar designed and owned by a local architect made its debut four years ago, it not only lent zing to the South Shore dining scene, but also beckoned Cape-bound cosmopolites with its expertly shaken martinis, mod leather furnishings, and moody firelight. The arrival of new executive chef George Willette last fall boosted the culinary substance—e.g., tuna tataki, lobster and goat cheese pizza—to match Ember's abundant style, making this nightspot a white-hot proposition, indeed. 459 Plain St. (Rte. 139), Marshfield, MA 2050, .
A good breakfast joint is the kind of place where you can settle down with your morning paper, sipping from a bottomless cup of self-serve coffee, and order what mom used to cook (or what you wish she had). After seven years in Ball Square, SoundBites is still sans frills; just good home cookin' fresh out of the oven and off the grill. Order French toast or waffles with fruit and you'll get a mound of cool, glistening slices of sunshine atop the warm, light battercakes. The other side of the menu proves there's more than one right way to do eggs, whether they're Moroccan, Benedict, or an omelet. 708 Broadway, Ball Square, Somerville, MA .
Muses nonwithstanding, the Art Store sells everything your magnum opus needs, and at prices that won't leave the artist in you starving. Forget rummaging through piles of 200 pre-stretched canvases to find the size you want; it's all neatly ordered against the wall. Every shade of paint—oil, acrylic, watercolor, you name it—is represented, and the paper selection runs from handmade, violet-embedded sheets to plain foam core. Like to sit while you sketch? There's furniture here too, plus easels and mesh file boxes. Come to think of it, the large, open, and neatly arranged space may just inspire you after all—to organize your studio. 401 Park Dr., Boston, MA .
Though we Bostonians are awash in seafood, there's shockingly little variety among those serving it to us. There are the clam shacks (Morse Fish Company, No Name), the executive favorites (Legal, Turner, Skipjack's, et. al), and the amusement parks (Barking Crab, Kingfish Hall). Only two restaurants truly cater to foodies—the South End's B&G Oysters and the North End's Neptune Oyster—and we love 'em both. This year Neptune can credit its edge over B&G to a slightly less formal vibe (shared tables, dishtowel napkins) that feels right for the times. That, and the fact that we spent the winter polishing off glorious scallops, ceviche, and cioppino here, and left happy every time. 63 Salem St., Boston, MA 2113, neptuneoyster.com.
A controversial choice, no matter how you cite it, considering the bank's relatively recent troubles with the law. Happily, Bank of Boston has since then kept its nose clean and its books in order. Despite some shaky Latin American paper on its ledgers, the bank reported a bracing 34 percent rise in profits this year. Moreover, our cockles were warmed by a number of neighborly gestures: those full-page Globe ads congratulating the coaches of our suddenly successful sports franchises, for instance. And the bank's sponsorship of M. L> Carr's "Say No to Drugs" campaign in area schools. Some would dismiss these as mere public relations gestures. Bleeding hearts that we are, however, we were moved. After all, second chances are what America is all about.
With one location already flourishing on Cape Cod, sisters Lauren and Simone Pereira established their second home-décor shop in Hanover’s new Merchant’s Row shopping plaza late last year. It’s not easy to shut your doors so soon after opening them, but online ordering and Instagram teaser shots of Elburne’s ethically sourced furniture, rugs, and artwork kept shoppers engaged through the shutdown. The doors are open once again, but the siblings are still offering curbside pickup to make scoring the perfect pick-me-up even easier. 2053 Washington St., Hanover, MA 02339, elburne.com.
There are plenty of great day trips available on Cape Cod, from whale watches to dune tours, but no other excursion company offers them as comprehensively as Flyer's, master of everything on or in the water. The company has built a sturdy reputation for its well-kept vessels (from Sunfish to pontoons), reasonable prices, and professional instructors and staff who will bend over backwards to get you what you need—whether it's a seasoned captain for a 13-person cruise to Long Point, a simple kayak to rent, a mid-range power boat, a temporary mooring for the weekend, or a season's worth of sailing lessons. 131A Commercial St., Provincetown, MA flyersboats.com/.
When you’re ready to escape to the Cape sans beach toys and boogie boards, book a stay at this 170-year-old former sea captain’s home. Overflowing with New England charm, the retreat is open only to guests 16 and over, and that’s just the way we like it. Tuck into a gratis breakfast, made fresh every morning with veggies grown right on the property, in the breezy sunroom; savor a meditative moment on the tree swing in the perennial garden; or just snuggle into the crisp Matouk sheets. If the goal is to break away from the daily grind, there’s no place better to do so. 364 Old Harbor Rd., Chatham, MA 02633, chathamgablesinn.com.
Two years after Joe and Beverly Dunn left Washington, DC, for the Cape to open the Island Merchant, they've already expanded to accommodate its loyal following. The restaurant's festive island vibe, nightly live music, and Caribbean-American far—corn chowder with coconut milk and ginger, fish tacos with homemade salsa—routinely entice both the family crowd and mojito-loving barflies. Clued-in patrons stick around for the Dunns' famous foil-wrapped burgers and Key lime pie, served only after 10 p.m. 302 Main St., Hyannis, MA 2601, theislandmerchant.com.
While it’s hard to unwind these days, this luxe resort is making it a little easier to get some much-needed R & R. Extra pre- cautions—including contactless golf-cart pickup, grocery-delivery service, and reduced capacity at pools and at Ocean Edge’s private beach—provide peace of mind, while new private experiences such as beach yoga and oyster tours make it easy to practice social distancing while giving the kiddos an unforgettable adven- ture. So go ahead, book that luxurious mansion suite. Boozy mudslides delivered straight to your beach chair await. 2907 Main St., Brewster, MA 02631, oceanedge.com.
We wait all year to dig into Sesuit Harbor’s lobster roll dripping with butter, crisp fried scallops with slaw, and mountains of succu- lent Barnstable Harbor littlenecks. But it’s not just the food that brings us back to this buoy-festooned clapboard shack—it’s the feeling we get after ordering from the takeout window and then unloading our fresh catch on a picnic table at water’s edge—the very definition of summer. 357 Sesuit Neck Rd., Dennis, MA 02638, sesuit-harbor-cafe.com.
Warm, comfortable, and blessed with a private garden, Café Chew is the sort of place that makes newcomers feel like regulars. Many ingredients, including the coffee and honey, are locally sourced; the pastries are made fresh by the in-house pastry chef; and the fare itself is exceptionally satisfying, despite—or perhaps because of—its simplicity. 4 Merchants Rd., Sandwich, MA 2563, cafechew.com.
The Hot Locks staff knows hair—the salon's been at the mane game for nearly 20 years. Well-trained by co-owner Sonny Rapozo, the seven stylists deliver flattering cuts, natural color, and enticing extras like scalp massages and deep conditioning treatments (and after a week at the beach, who doesn't need one of those?). Go in for the works or a basic blowout that will leave your locks looking, well, hot. 580-B North Falmouth Highway (Rte. 28A), North Falmouth, MA 2556, hotlockssalon.com.