Mashpee's New Seabury is one of the Cape's toniest communities, brimming with quaint shops, picture-perfect lawns, and crushed-seashell pathways. The Raw Bar, which dispenses cheap beer beneath bare-breasted mermaid memorabilia, is the one place locals and visitors can really let their hair down. And they do—over platters of raw oysters, littlenecks, and heralded lobster rolls. The latter are technically big enough to share, but if you're like us, you'll want to savor every bite of your own. 252 Shore Dr., Mashpee, MA 2649, therawbar.com.
With only one TV in a corner high above the bar, Audubon Circle is not the place to watch baseball. It is, however, the perfect spot for casual salads and sandwiches in a cozy setting. The food is unique and delicious without being fussy: A turkey sandwich gets a touch of tangy guava mustard, while spicy chili mayonnaise puts a kick in the bean burger. After one taste of the veggie quesadilla and Asian pot stickers, you won't even miss the game. 838 Beacon St., Boston, MA auduboncircle.us/.
It opened a year ago to give Roslindale residents a more convenient place to shop. But no one expected the excellent service, friendliness, and variety—and no one dreamed this neighborhood market would steadily siphon customers from the chains. It really shouldn't be surprising: If you could get an abundance of fresh produce, health foods, baked goods, sushi, prepared foods, and all the staples you need, wouldn't you avoid the chainstore bustle? 30 Corinth St., Roslindale Village, MA .
It's not exactly a shock that Harvard is able to reel in big names for its reading series. The pleasant surprise is the sheer variety, from political leaders (Ralph Nader) to literary-world sweethearts (Gary Shteyngart). Listen to discussions on the environment, the economy, or good old-fashioned plot analysis—and even take part in one yourself, with the book circle or the "Philosophy Café" Many events are free, and the ones that aren't seldom cost more than $5. 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2138, harvard.com.
It makes sense that this Amesbury gem is centered around family, given that it’s been run by the same one for three generations. With a hard-cider bar, food trucks, a bee observatory, and a trike yard and giant sandbox for the wee ones, there’s plenty of fun on the 145-acre farm for every age group. Kids and grownups alike, meanwhile, will love making memories while picking their own ripe, juicy fruit all summer and fall long. 45 Fern Ave., Amesbury, MA 01913, ciderhill.com.
We have one strategy when it comes to the manicure: Get in and out as fast as possible. Unfortunately, speedy service at many salons can come at the expense of quality—and cleanliness. Which is why it's MiniLuxe for us. The technicians here rub germ-killing sanitizer on mitts and briskly file, buff, and sculpt nails with new and autoclave-sterilized instruments. Then there's the flawless polish application—one that lasts for a full week (no UV light required). 296 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, miniluxe.com.
Floral innovation is in full bloom at Artemisia, the downtown showcase for arrangements that run from delicately tied bundles of tiny daisies to huge, sweeping bunches of irises, roses, and lilies. Exquisite, spare designs—say, planted hyacinths, pussywillows, and roses—are a specialty. But the real kicker here is the personal service, which includes plenty of one-on-one time with the florally proficient employees. 327 Summer St., Boston, MA .
Mango's shop, The Image Maker, at 28 Boylston St. in Cambridge, is the favorite of our art director, Sam Savage, who should know about these things. For one thing, Savage says, Mango managed to clear up some pictures he could barely see on the contact sheet. "We give quality prints without killing on the price," Mango says. The Image Maker also has one-day developing service. The Image Maker, 28 Boylston St., Cambridge, MA .
Collaborative workspaces—centers where many different businesses work in one area, bouncing ideas off one another—are redefining the way we work in Boston. The best of the bunch? The South End's Make/Shift, which merges creative businesses like Spirited magazine, graphic design firm Golden Arrows, and Web design and development company Quilted. Boston, MA 2118, makeshiftboston.org.
Attention. Compassion. Unparalleled Service. No, it's not a bank—it's a video store. Actually, it's a chain of them, staffed by some of the most highly regarded film fanatics in town. They can answer all your dumb movie questions like, "Do you have the one with the girl, and what's-his-name, and they get marooned in the Pacific...?" The deals are sweet too—five tapes for $10 every night (no new releases), and two-for-one on Tuesdays. Only happy endings here! 14 McGrath Highway, Somerville, MA hollywoodexpressvideo.com.
The fact that this prime spit of land, surrounded by water with views of the city and harbor, isn’t a golf course? That’s a miracle unto itself. It’s well worth reserving a timed parking pass ahead of time to be one of the lucky ones who get to peruse the blessedly crowd-controlled hills, rocky shoreline, and Frederick Law Olmsted–designed carriage paths each day. Martins Lane, Hingham, MA 02043, thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/south-of-boston/worlds-end.html.
Does your windowsill already resemble a jungle, but you still need one more hedgehog aloe? Is your sun porch incomplete without twin philodendrons flanking the entrance? Then you just might be the kind of urban gardener Niche caters to. Its two retail locations are all-in-one stops for plants, pots, soil, fertilizer, tools, and, yes, more plants, letting you indulge your green thumb without sacrificing your prime city real estate. 619 Tremont St., Boston, MA nicheplantshop.com.
The Winnetu is an island classic for a reason: It's family-friendly (with evening s'mores and a life-size chess board) and ultra-convenient (overlooking one of New England's best beaches), yet removed enough from the hustle and bustle to be relaxing. And the best has recently gotten even better, thanks to a renovation that left the guest rooms—which range from one-bedroom suites to five-bedroom cottages—with notable new polish. 31 Dunes Rd., Edgartown, MA 2539, winnetu.com.
Have just 30 minutes to assemble a head-to-toe weekend outfit? Here's help. Lisa Cancelli Picard's South End boutique—the first city outlet of her North Shore chainlet—is a one-stop coffer of casually edgy tees, blouses, jump suits, shoes, and jewelry from forward-thinking designers like Veronica Beard, Isabel Marant, and Rachel Comey. Cancelli Picard has also quietly assembled one of the best denim collections in town, with newer L.A. labels such as Strom, Mother, and Amo. 1409 Washington St., Boston, MA 02118, violalovely.com.