This is the site to hit before you go anywhere. Updated every few minutes, SmarTraveler.com offers information about tie-ups on local roads and the MBTA. Even better than the concise written alerts are the live video feeds form problem-prone paces like the Central Artery, the Cape Cod bridges, and Route 128. The picture quality is good, though you can't quite discern drivers' obscene hand gestures as they back up on Storrow.
The food at Fin is subtle at first, but soon shows its adventurous side. Take the chowder. It's a go-to order at any restaurant on the Cape, but Fin uses oysters instead of clams and adds a drizzle of white-truffle oil. That level of detail and savory depth permeates the offerings here, from the flawless pan-seared scallops to the salted-peanut ice cream. 800 Main St., Dennis, MA fincapecod.com.
Leave your car on the Cape. Nantucket’s iconic harborfront resort, and its well-appointed rooms, are no more than 10 minutes from anyplace you’d want to go: Young’s for bikes, the Juice Bar for ice cream, the beach and ferry, too. And if you’re looking for the best on-island massage, you don’t even have to leave the building. 50 Easton St., Nantucket, MA 02554, whiteelephanthotel.com.
There's finally authentic Mexican on the Upper Cape thanks to this bustling spot in Falmouth Center, which skips the gimmicks and gloppy cheese in favor of fresh, local seafood and a creative Sunday brunch menu with a twist—and a kick. Go for the gloriously runny eggs Benedict topped with smoky braised pork and chipotle hollandaise, or French toast laced with tequila-fried bananas. Bonus: Kids get a free chocolate taco (you might, too, if you ask politely). 188 Main St., Falmouth, MA 02540, anejomexicanbistro.com.
In a neighborhood that's more about hot dogs than haute cuisine, it can be hard to get a decent meal. That's where Audubon Circle comes in. This darkly lit, sleekly cool restaurant with the long slate bar has a small but satisfying menu of dressed-up pub grub, from the downright delicious burger with spicy home fries to the rare seared tuna with garlic mashed potatoes. The legendary pot stickers (dumplings and steamed vegetables served in a paper takeout container) can provoke food fights—over who gets the last bite. And thanks to the expertly mixed drinks and ample supply of local and national beers on tap, there's plenty to please diners and drinkers who long for more than the watered-down suds at Fenway. 838 Beacon St., Boston, MA auduboncircle.us/.
If brunch is the most civilized way to dine, the Harvest is the most civilized place to have brunch. First there's the restaurant's lovely garden patio, which in warm weather offers a leafy retreat from the traffic of Harvard Square. Then there's the table presentation. No paper napkins and messy tabletops here—brunch at the Harvest is a white-linen, Sunday-best affair. But it's the menu that renders this restaurant a class above, with its three-course, prix-fixe ($33) menu of gourmet takes on classic dishes. The eggs Benedict, for instance, are served not one but two ways: crab and avocado on one orb, smoked ham and asparagus with roasted red pepper hollandaise on the other. Omelets come with such citified ingredients as wild mushrooms, spring onion, or pancetta. It's the final course—dessert—that makes this tradition a proper indulgence, from the milk chocolate panna cotta to the irresistible classic chocolate layer cake. 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA harvestcambridge.com/.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every beachside community needs a restaurant with a view, a meeting place of sorts where families and friends can gather for birthday celebrations or just to gaze and graze on a sunny afternoon. For the mid-Cape, that place is the Pelham House. After a recent major refresh, a heated roof deck offers unobstructed Nantucket Sound views all around, not to mention a killer menu featuring plenty of fresh seafood. As for the apré-dinner scene? Multiple fire pits surrounding the sea-level dining area are perfect for cocktails and moonlit ocean views. 14 Sea St., Dennis Port, MA 02639, pelhamhouseresort.com.
In the past year alone, Pollen Floral Design owner Krissy Price has dreamed up masterpieces for a distillery engagement party, a restaurant wedding, and seaside nuptials on the Cape. She’s as comfortable working in jewel tones as she is in pastels, giving big, beautiful blooms the starring role in every custom installation, free-flowing bouquet, and color-packed centerpiece she crafts. MA bostonpollen.com.
Owner Philip Saul knows that casual doesn’t have to mean sloppy. To wit: Where else can you try on Japanese selvedge denim in two contemporary, tailored fits? Whether you’re shopping for cheerful printed tees and canvas shorts for your next Cape vacation or fitted button-downs and slim-fit pants for breezy weekends in the city, playing it cool never looked this sharp. 577 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02118, saultne.com.
Most Cape restaurants fall into one of two categories: beachy seafood shacks staffed by teenagers, or precious tourist traps with huge markups. The Naked Oyster is neither—just a sleek raw bar and restaurant featuring oysters fresh from chef Florence Lowell’s farm. Enjoy baked bivalves of every variety, inventive fish preparations, and a civilized bar scene fueled by well-made drinks. 410 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601, nakedoyster.com.
Based solely on the coolness of its bayside pool, Wequassett would swim away with this prize. But it also excels in every other way: The cozy cottage accommodations feel like the Cape of yore (albeit with Molton Brown toiletries and nightly turndown service); prime Signature rooms have fireplaces and unmatched water views. And then there's the exquisite golf course. The outdoor bar. The laid-back yet attentive staff. Need we go on? 2171 Head of the Bay Rd., Harwich, MA 2645, wequassett.com.