Maybe it’s the waterfront vistas that make White Elephant resort, situated on the east side of Nantucket’s downtown harbor, so magical. Maybe it’s the specialty bed linens, so beloved by guests that you can actually buy them, mattress included. Maybe it’s the pool, where on sunny afternoons you can sprawl out on a plush cushioned lounge chair or in a private cabana and sip a berry smoothie from the snack bar. Or in fact, maybe it’s all these things at once that make a stay here as blissful as an island breeze. 50 Easton St., Nantucket, MA 02554, whiteelephantnantucket.com.
Kimball Farm started as an ice cream stand on a sandy patch of parking lot, a rite of passage for local kids to eat cones as big as their heads. Today, the Westford location has socially distanced family fun down to a science with attractions that rival most theme parks. Here you’ll find well-monitored lines for gargantuan sundaes; an al fresco snack shack with kid-friendly meals (cheesy tater tots, hot dogs) and local beer for grownups; live music; and even mini golf, bumper boats, and batting cages for open-air fun with your pod. 400 Littleton Rd. (Rt. 110), Westford, MA 01886, kimballfarm.com.
A welcome addition to gifty, girly Beacon Hill, this new boutique is as hip as it is friendly. On any given day, you'll find Uncle Pete's proprietor Peter Tam chatting about everything from dark denim to indie music. His fashionable menswear lines include Rag & Bone, Tretorn, Cloak & Dagger, and Surface to Air, and he's eager to chime in with helpful, practical advice on what goes with what. Bonus: A women's section means your lady friend can look as cool as you, sir. (Buy her something nice, why don't you?) 119 Charles St., Boston, MA 2114, .
Big-city newsstands have mostly gone the way of afternoon dailies, but there are a couple of exceptions. Out of Town News gets the nod this year for four reasons. First, it's bigger than fellow standard-setter Copley Square News, and the extra real estate means it offers even more newspapers and magazines from all over the world. Second, it's a national historic landmark, meaning it's in little danger of disappearing. Third, it's right in Harvard Square, where the people-watching is first rate. And last, because Nini's Corner, directly across Massachusetts Avenue, is a pretty good newsstand itself—a boon to anyone too lazy to cross the street to find a magazine. Zero Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA .
Once in a blue moon, you get a Blue Bunny. Cofounded by children's author-illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot, The North Star) five years ago, the magical little bookshop has grown into an area hub of reading and imagination. In scarcely more than 1,000 square feet it offers classic kids' books, young-adult novels (some for grownups, too), and lots of low-tech, high-fun games. But more than that, it provides a genuine springboard for creativity. There's always an art or writing workshop planned, and this spring the store launched a magazine created by and for youngsters called The Hutch—underscoring how rare this Bunny truly is. 577 High St., Dedham, MA 2026, .
Sitting on a block somewhere between Juicy Couture and Newbury MedSpa, Dorfman's looks a tad out of place among its campier neighbors. Chalk it up to the stately facade and, no doubt, to the fact that this store practically oozes staying power. For two generations the Dorfman family has dealt exclusively in European-cut diamonds and other gems; these days they also sell such illustrious names as Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Breguet. Perhaps most representative is the in-house Barbara Collection, open-link gold pieces inspired by the clan matriarch that are at once unpretentious and enduring—much like the venerable Dorfman itself. 24 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, .
"If you want something done right, do it yourself" is a nifty aphorism, but it's also true that we could all use a little help sometimes. The versatile grease monkeys at this bike co-op offer options for all levels of hands-on experience. Stand-and-tool rental runs $9 per hour, an unflappable mechanic to talk you through your repair costs $18 per hour, and if you just can't be bothered, they'll tune your ride to perfection at reasonable rates. If you really want to get your fingernails dirty, the school offers classes in repair and wheel building. 351 Broadway, Cambridge, MA broadwaybicycleschool.com/.
Done up in modern-looking wood panels and slate surfaces, this Kenmore Square favorite exudes a cool, relaxed air—even on a recent game-night visit (and despite its general proximity to BU hordes). Created by the pros who went on to open pizza specialist Cambridge 1 and cheeky pub Tory Row, it's an ideal meet-up for friends seeking a weeknight fix of cold microbrews and juicy Kobe hot dogs, or stellar grilled hanger steak and a reasonably priced bottle of vino on a quiet, early Saturday evening. 838 Beacon St., Boston, MA 2115, audubocircle.com.
You might want to join this club for the parking alone. Where else can you pay $1 during peak hours for an indoor spot? New owners have done a complete rehab on the old Allston-Brighton Squash Club, which now pulls its weight with the other big-name clubs in town. To wit: acres of cardio machines, including the hot new elliptical walkers; brand new Cybex; free weights of every description; six squash courts; a huge aerobics studio (that doubles as a gym); and a dedicated spinning room with enough colored lights on the ceiling for a Broadway show. 15 Gorham St., Boston, MA .
Partisans know Christina's does weird very, very well. Honey-lavender? Refreshing. Kaffir lime? Luscious. What truly sets it apart, however, is its finesse with more-familiar flavors, like coffee, pistachio, even vanilla—not to mention a frozen chocolate mousse that's better, and cheaper, than any we've found on a restaurant dessert menu. Our favorite scoop, peanut butter chip, is so thick and creamy you half want to eat it with a knife and fork, though in the end the standard cone does the job nicely. 1225 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 2139, christinasicecream.com.
There aren't a lot of culinary bells and whistles on the menu at Abe & Louie's, which is just fine. This is, after all, a steakhouse. And on that front, chef Bill Bramlette delivers. He sticks to USDA prime cuts that are aged four or five weeks to succulent perfection. Choices run the gamut, from New York sirloin to bone-in filets and 24-ounce porterhouses. And unlike some kitchens we won't name, when you order your meat medium-rare, that's what you get. On the beverage end, a lusty list of wines, heavy on red grape varietals, provides the perfect match. 793 Boylston St., Boston, MA abeandlouies.com/.
The Minuteman Bikeway may seem the obvious choice for bike enthusiasts, but it's too straight for our taste. A good bike path needs some twists and turns, with long, empty stretches of solitude and glimpses of the city skyline. Only the Esplanade provides all that. The paths along the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge are usually so packed they require complete attention, but once you reach Newton and Watertown, the ride is all yours. The stretch? Watertown Square, where you glide over wooden bridges, swoop under low-hanging trees, and, for a few wonderful, brief moments, hear nothing but the crickets and the whir of your pedals. MA
The gallery moved last year from its swank Newbury Street location to a more intimate South End setting. Toale's edginess is more than topographical however: He represents many of the city's most promising younger artists, such as Ambreen Butt, David Hilliard, and Lucy White. His is also the gallery of choice for many shows of national significance, such as last year's posthumous exhibit of photographer Francesca Woodman. Between exhibitions, Toale sponsors readings, video installations, and the occasional fashion show. And once again this year, he'll use his gallery's clout for a good cause—as chairperson for ARTcetera 2000, the biennial fine arts auction that benefits the AIDS Action Committee. 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA .
Partisans know Christina's does weird very, very well. Honey-lavender? Refreshing. Kaffir lime? Luscious. What truly sets it apart, however, is its finesse with more-familiar flavors, like coffee, pistachio, even vanilla—not to mention a frozen chocolate mousse that's better, and cheaper, than any we've found on a restaurant dessert menu. Our favorite scoop, peanut butter chip, is so thick and creamy you half want to eat it with a knife and fork, though in the end the standard cone does the job nicely. 1255 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 2139, christinasicecream.com.
While lachha paratha, kadahi paneer, and the other spice-redolent dishes at this 17-year-old Back Bay outpost may be a challenge to pronounce, none are a struggle to polish off. Saffron basmati rice and steaming onion naan accompany curried meat and vegetable dishes; the tandoori chicken, often too dry elsewhere, is packed with savory juices. The gilded decor is a tad kitschy, so if an abundance of drapes and mirrors isn't exactly your thing, there's the option of delivery. Just remember to order early, as weekend nights bring wait times of up to an hour and a half. 51A Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA indiasamraat.com.