Seven thousand yards of championship golfing, nestled in 170 acres of sweet-smelling pine forest: The 72-par Dennis Pines is a course to be reckoned with. With water at four of the holes, enough trees to test anyone's accuracy, and the notorious par-5 twelfth, the course is arguably the toughest—and certainly one of the most beautiful—on Cape Cod. Amenities are plentiful, including an expansive driving range and practice green, a nice little lounge, and a well-stocked pro shop. Rte. 134, East Dennis, MA dennisgolf.com/.
The Cape has its share of pubs ready to get you good and sloshed, but if you'd rather savor a drink than slam it back, the Nor' East Beer Garden, in Provincetown, is an excellent choice. The tiny, shirelike oasis has an extensive list of craft beers, and its selection of inventive, garden-infused cocktails (consider an arugula mojito or a "rhubarbarita") offer some peaceful refreshment amid the antics of Commercial Street. 206 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA noreastbeergarden.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.
Bostonians are only the Bourne Bridge away from a summertime escape to the Cape. But when you want to feel transported to more-tropical climes, travel to the tiki-bar-style setup at Shore Leave in the South End. It's the perfect place for cooling off with fruity yet finessed rum-soaked drinks and Pacific Rim–inspired snacks such as okonomiyaki tater tots swimming in jalapeño cheese with katsu sauce and bonito. 11 William E Mullins Way, Boston, MA 02118, shoreleaveboston.com.
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, .
True, the Cape is an antique-hunting hub, but fun and funky finds abound as well. Provincetown's Roots has a unique, diverse collection of home and garden accessories, from Tibetan rugs and Tiffany-style lamps to bright hand-painted wooden bowls and bubbling slate fountains. If all this shopping leaves you looking to take a seat, choose from among classic wicker, soft leather, and fine wooden chairs. 193 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA shoproots.com/.
Why limit yourself to one seafood venue when you can have it all on just one block? Main Street's dream team of major seafood players—Tom Shea's (for unbeatable grilled seafood), Woodman's (for topnotch classic fried clams, lobster tails, and scallops), and Periwinkles (for expertimental, fusion-minded fish dishes)—offers Cape Ann's highest concentration of fine fish. Put together, they provide what may just be the perfect seafood sampler. Main Street, Essex, MA .
Cape Cod isn't exactly famous for its surfing, but the Beachcomber on Cahoon Hollow Beach is the quintessential surfers' hangout, with battered boards on the walls, sand on the wood floors, and an annual visit from surf god Dick Dale. Early on, the joint is full of families grabbing dinner, but once the sun goes down, a younger crowd moves in for strong mixed drinks and beer. 1120 Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet, MA 2667, thebeachcomber.com.
Start your Saturday with a snack from the Great Cape Baking Company—we suggest the apple-cider doughnut or a hunk of rosemary bread. Load up on local seafood from C&C Lobster & Fish (based in nearby Hull) and fresh produce from Mary Bukujian's Hanson farm. Enjoy the view of Bathing Beach. Drive home happy. Hingham, MA 2043, hinghamfarmersmarket.org.
It's actually two markets in one: On Wednesdays you'll find goods by the town clock in Hingham Square, while on Saturdays the vendors set up shop at Hingham Bathing Beach. Either way, South Shore denizens stream in for the colorful array of produce, meats, and seafood from stands like Weir River Farm, Great Cape Bakery, River Rock Farm, and more. Saturdays May through November, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Hingham Bathing Beach; Wednesdays June through October, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in Hingham Square, Hingham, MA hinghamfarmersmarket.org.
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 .
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, .
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/.
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.