A sweet roadside stand that serves handmade ice cream from local cows' milk, scooped by fresh-faced neighborhood teens on summer break—Benson's is straight off the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. All cuteness aside, though, this ice cream rules. Some of the rich and creamy flavors are only available during short windows of time, depending on which local berries are ripe. Be sure to sample the fresh raspberry or peach. You'll be smiling till the cows come home. Rte. 133, Boxford, MA bensonsicecream.com/.
Smith played the White Knight and charged to the rescue of Carter Hawley Hale Stores for the second time in two years, thwarting the Limited's second hostile takeover attempt on the Los Angeles company. All General Cinemas got for its corporate chivalry was a controlling interest in the fastest-growing and most profitable part of Carter Hawley's entire operation: its $1.1 billion-a-year-specialty-store division, which includes Neiman-Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Contempo Casuals. General Cinemas, Chestnut Hill, MA .
Do we really need overpriced, over-greased, artery-clogging takeout? Not anymore, if Gimme the Skinny has anything to do with it. At this takeout hot spot, a circle of chefs whips up delicious and balanced low-calorie, low-fat meals that brim with fresh flavor, such as miso-glazed salmon, pan-seared scallops, and pear-and-prosciutto pizza. Suddenly "to go" takes on a whole new (healthy and guilt-free) meaning. 35 Washington St., Norwell, MA .
Robert Gaston of Cambridge Kayak Company is putting together a sea-kayak trail stretching from northern to southern Massachusetts. Kayaker-friendly bed and breakfasts and waterfront restaurants will welcome weary travelers along the way; the tourist dollars, Gaston hopes, will encourage environmental awareness. That's the long-term plan. The short-term plan is to put together an ace team of kayak instructors and tour leaders for the summer, a venture in which Gaston is joined by Tony Simpson, an energetic British Canoe Union instructor. Cambridge, MA
Just off tour with folk legend Joan Baez, Dar Williams is now home in Belchertown savoring the critical success of her latest CD, Mortal City. When Williams originally moved to western Massachusetts from New York, she got a job with the Boston Opera Company and aspired to become a playwright or to direct operas. But the call of the coffeehouse was too strong, and Williams's modern folk style soon drew a following that recognized a new talent on the rise.
In a town that goes to bed early, it's nice to know there's still a place where insomniacs can get a decent bite to eat. The Franklin Café, with its candlelit tables and always-packed bar, is that place, serving up a gourmet menu until 1:30 a.m. every day—even in the late hours of a deserted Sunday night. And this is not your ordinary bar food: Chef Steve Ryan serves up sophisticated fare such as garlic grilled calamari with pesto and an unbeatable spicy black pepper—seared tuna. Steak lovers can get their fix here, too—one taste of the bone-in beef tenderloin with garlicky spinach and even the most die-hard night owl will sleep well. 278 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA franklincafe.com.
Finally, Bostonians with gluten allergies can grab fantastic fast-casual meals without fear of cross-contamination. At Grainmaker, guests fill rice, noodle, or salad bowls with vibrantly flavored fixings like sweet-chili shrimp, lemongrass steak, pickled veggies, and zippy sauces such as spicy hoisin — all with absolutely no gluten (or dairy) in sight. It’s a surprisingly hard-to-find concept we hope catches on, and here’s another: Grainmaker’s pioneering approach to reusable packaging, which gives customers discounts for choosing the restaurant’s returnable glass takeout containers and, in the process, saves thousands of pounds of waste. Multiple locations, eatgrainmaker.com.
The expectations were high when Tina Burgos, the fashionista behind Newbury Street boutique Stel's (RIP), announced she was taking her popular online store to a Needham brick-and-mortar. By any measure, Burgos's new endeavor has well exceeded the hype, with a tightly curated selection of the same indie designer fashions (clean, classic pieces from Ilana Kohn, minimalist looks from Maryam Nassir Zadeh) we love to shop online, not to mention an expanded home-goods section. Something else the Needham store has that the website doesn't? Burgos herself, who often plays hostess to her loyal shoppers. 947 Great Plain Ave., Needham, MA 2492, covetandlou.com.
With Instagram-friendly candlepin lanes and lively, unfakeable old-school charm, the nearly 80-year-old Sacco's holds its own as the area's best. It's more than worth the hours'-long wait to play, especially if you come hungry (and thirsty): Flatbread Company mans two huge pizza ovens off to the side, complemented by an equally impressive beer selection. The crowds should thin—at least a little bit—when the pizza/bowling concept expands its good-time vibes to another location in Brighton this year. 45 Day St., Somerville, MA 02144, flatbreadcompany.com/sacco.
Looking for an easy way to channel the tranquil vibes of that tropical vacation you were supposed to take this year? Pop into Casa Design Outdoor. Part of Casa Design Group’s family of showrooms, the petite SoWa space is outfitted with a lush faux-plant accent wall, artfully styled outdoor-furniture vignettes, botanical-print wallcoverings, and windows that stream in sunlight. Take a slice of paradise home with patio pieces that range from city sleek (Royal Botania dining tables) to coastal chic (braided Kettal daybeds, pictured), all so luxurious you’ll forget you’re not actually at a posh resort. 460 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118, casadesigngroup.com.
For almost as long as there’s been a Scituate Harbor, it seems like there’s been a Welch Company. What started as a general/hardware store during the 19th century is now a staple for home décor and gifts. Alongside the requisite seashell-patterned accessories, you’ll find locally made Matouk linens, ultra-soft Brahms Mount blankets, and pretty Mariposa tableware ripe for the picking. And with a bridal registry program for the next generation of South Shore denizens, it’s safe to say this local gem will continue to shine well into the 21st century. welchcompany.com.
There’s plenty of good theater in Boston, but if you want to see something really innovative, chances are you’re going to the Huntington. Its most recent season included a production of a Sherlock Holmes play melded with Fujiko Nakaya’s wildly popular outdoor fog sculptures, as well as the brilliantly staged Indecent. The company has also proven it can attract—and retain—big names: Pose star and Met gala trendsetter Billy Porter will be returning this fall to direct The Purists. We can’t wait to see what the Huntington thinks of next. 264 Huntington Ave. , Boston, MA huntingtontheatre.org.
You could go for the smoked quail and date appetizer. You could go for the now-famous undulating wood ceiling. But the reason to go to Banq is to simply sit, and watch the social hopefuls preen. When the French-Asian fusion spot made its debut in the South End this winter, boldfacers came from far and wide. These days, Banq still draws its share of top chefs, fashion insiders, and media darlings—who cluster around the low-lit tables, sipping Collalbrigo prosecco and air-kissing passing acquaintances—but the dressed-to-the-nines newcomers looking to hobnob are themselves the show on all of Washington Street. 1375 Washington Street, Boston, MA 2118, banqrestaurant.com.
Sure, you can find a crib or changing table at any old baby-furniture warehouse, but here's what you'll be missing: design staffers who will come to your home, interview your child (who may or may not answer back), and determine the furniture match for her budding personality. Meanwhile, they'll scope out the rest of your pad to ensure the nursery jibes with your carefully chosen décor. Expect high-end contemporary pieces by the likes of Oeuf and Monte, streamlined beauties that are still comfortable enough to take the edge off those 3 a.m. feedings. 82 Boylston Street, Brookline, MA 2445, bambinidesignonline.com.
You can catch an Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu flick at any multiplex nowadays, but you won't see Boston Underground Film Festival highlights or a repertory series of World War II movies—or, for that matter, a weeklong Muppets marathon—anywhere else but the Brattle. The Harvard Square institution has been screening foreign, art house, and classic films for over 50 years, but it's much more than a sleepy civic treasure: It's holy ground for Boston's cineastes, budding film auteurs, and anyone who just likes to watch Casablanca on the big screen. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA brattlefilm.org.