Roots Home & Garden
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.
Main Street in Essex
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.
Hingham Farmer's Market
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 .
Chatham Bars Inn
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, .
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.
The Art Store
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 .
Bank of Boston
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.
Chatham Bars Inn
Thought the king of Cape resorts couldn’t possibly get any better? Think again. To get ready for the post-COVID travel boom, CBI bolstered its private beach with additional sand — about 7,000 cubic yards, to be precise — along with new beach cabanas, lounge chairs, and umbrellas. You’ll also find fresh treatments at the sprawling spa complex (don’t miss the Moroccanoil hydration ritual), the return of live music on Bayview Terrace, and plenty of fun, interactive children’s programs for when the kids tire from leaping in and out of the water — and you tire of watching them. 297 Shore Rd., Chatham, MA 02633, chathambarsinn.com.
Flyer's Boat Rental
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.
Tree House Brewing Company
Okay, so it’s not technically a bar, but with tickets required for entry (and sometimes selling out), this brewery’s new Sandwich outpost is certainly the most coveted spot around to sip suds at a picnic table overlooking Cape Cod Bay or inside an airy, whitewashed taproom. That’s thanks to Tree House’s IPAs, imperial stouts and porters, and more, which beer aficionados have traveled from far and wide to sample since the brewery opened its first location in western Massachusetts 11 years ago. We’ll let you in on a little secret: They taste even better on vacation. Sandwich, MA treehousebrew.com/visiting-sandwich.