Diane White, the<em>Boston Globe</em> and Laura Shapiro, the<em>Real Paper</em>
White and Shapiro are engaging writers with refreshing viewpoints. MA
Chatham Gables Inn
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.
The Island Merchant
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.
Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club
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.
Sesuit Harbor Cafe
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.
A seven-course chef’s tasting — in Wellfleet, you say? Yes, it’s here, and yes, it’s 100 percent worth springing for. Chef Michael Ceraldi’s menu changes daily based on what’s available from the food purveyors surrounding him: That means one night you might find black-licorice ravioli with P-town diver lobster; another night monk-liver torchon with seaweed bagna cauda. Ceraldi, meanwhile, holds court at the center of this nightly dinner party, explaining each dish to diners at two seatings per evening as the consummate host. 15 Kendrick Ave., Wellfleet, MA 02667, ceraldicapecod.com.
Hole in One
Who knew brunch in a takeout box could be so sweet? Before escaping to the National Seashore, pick up some much-needed fuel at this restaurant and bakery with locations in Orleans and Eastham, which offers its beloved stacks of cinna- mon-roll pancakes and scallion-cheddar biscuits smothered in sausage gravy to go. Word to the wise: Whatever you get, don’t forget to add a dozen hand-cut doughnuts (including specials like blueberry crum- ble, s’mores, or Reese’s) to your order. 98 MA-6A, Orleans, MA 02653, theholecapecod.com.
Compared to, say, Ben & Jerry's, the list of flavors at this Centerville favorite doesn't seem particularly innovative. But Four Seas, which has been in business since 1934, was the first to come up with such then-brilliant ideas as adding chocolate chips to a vanilla base. They still do homemade chocolate chip, maple walnut, penuche, and fresh strawberry better than anyone around. 360 S. Main St., Centerville, MA 2632, fourseasicecream.com.
Bellezza Day Spa
Chances are you'll enjoy your every minute at the newly relocated and expanded Falmouth Bellezza spa. A complimentary cup of tea or relaxing glass of wine precedes a supersoothing head massage and chic, contemporary cut. Whether you're looking for a simple style or a totally new color, these hair designers pay close attention to your desires before making them a reality. 221 Main St., Falmouth, MA spabellezza.com.
If you (or your waistline) can't afford Chillingsworth's seven-course dinner, make straight for its Sunday brunch. The 300-year-old estate serves scrumptious French and American cuisine amid fresh flowers and antique furniture. Chef Nitzi Rabin takes brunch fare to the next level, whipping up Chesapeake crab—cake Benedict, omelets with lobster meat, and scrambled eggs with black truffles. 2449 Main St. (Rte. 6A), Brewster, MA chillingsworth.com.
Relax & Renew Day Spa
Five years after opening her quaint, cottagelike spa, owner Andrea Winget has hit her stride, welcoming returning patrons by name and securing exclusive rights to upscale skin-care lines like DDF and Phytomer. Summer residents of the posh Falmouths swear by Relax & Renew's personalized facials, deep-tissue massages, and creative body treatments (try the West Falmouth Wrapture, a detoxifying algae wrap that's perfect for sun-toasted skin). 635 Rte. 28A, West Falmouth, MA 2540, .
Hangar B Eatery
Enter this unassuming restaurant inside the tiny Chatham Municipal Airport, and questions abound: Should I order the croissant breakfast sandwich or the poached eggs with beet-and-sweet-potato hash? Is it appropriate to spoon the house-made blackberry-lemon jam directly into my mouth? Whatever you end up choosing (or spooning), one thing’s for certain: Chef Brian Erskine’s interesting and infinitely satisfying dishes take brunch to new heights. 240 George Ryder Rd., Chatham, MA 2633, hangarbcapecod.com.
Chatham Bars Inn
Everything at this posh spa is understated yet high-end. The outdoor relaxation pool has private cabanas nearby for al fresco massages; the locker rooms feature private steam showers. And body treatments like the Healing Sea Cocoon? Lovely, and mind-blowingly restorative. 297 Shore Rd., Chatham, MA 2633, chathambarsinn.com.