This is what you might call seafood in the rough: You stand at the counter, shout your order, eat it, and leave. But paper plates and plastic cutlery aside, there's very little that's actually rough about Woodman's, which offers some of the smoothest fried seafood around. The breading isn't a disguise for a small and salty chunk of meat, as it is at lesser seafood shacks, but a crispy golden complement to the tender bivalves beneath. 121 Main St., Essex, MA woodmans.com/.
These stylists just might be more obsessed with your hair than you are. Blowouts, cuts, color—you name it, they'll do it, and do it well. The Interlocks team of 15 clip artists (some of them—gasp—Newbury Street defectors) is well schooled, having traveled to Milan and London to learn from the best in the trade. Nervous about switching stylists? Stop in for a complimentary consultation. This spa is so certain of itself, it offers clients a free follow-up appointment if they're not completely happy. 58 Merrimac St., Newburyport, MA interlockssalon.com/.
Chartreuse colanders and French blue ramekins can dress up a cupboard. But if you really love cooking, you know kitchens should be more function than form. So make like local chefs and frequent Eastern Bakers Supply, a warehouse-style jumble of no-frills, serviceable cookware at cut-rate prices. The crowded aisles house pots, mixing bowls, tart pans, pepper mills, and oversize whisks, spatulas, and spoons. The options are limitless—so long as you're okay with stainless steel. 145 N. Washington St., Boston, MA 2114, easternbakers.com.
Royal Jewelers is to David Yurman addicts as Massachusetts is to Mitt Romney—a second, and maybe first, home. There's good reason for that: The family-run, gem-packed store literally holds the largest and most complete Yurman boutique outside his Madison Avenue shop. And it hardly stops there. Royal also houses case after case of delectable works by other highstyle designers, including John Hardy, Kieselstein-Cord, Luca Carati, Michael Beaudry, Doris Panos, Elise Rosenstock, and Charriol. 58 Main St., Andover, MA royaljewelers.com/.
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.
So many men's stores have forsaken good, old-fashioned service for the ubiquitous bottom line. But integrity still means something at this North Street shop, where customers can choose from among Coconut Grove silk sport coats, XMI dress shirts, Barry Bricken cotton trousers, and Cole Haan loafers. And shopping at Steven Valenti ensures a flawless fit: An on-site tailor will adjust your purchases. 157 North St., Pittsfield, MA stevenvalenticlothing.com/.
At a resort, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. But not here, where a personal concierge caters to your whims. That's a welcome addition to the Ocean Edge, which has undergone $50 million in renovations to its villas, mansion rooms, and restaurants. So now you get the coddling you'd expect from a boutique hotel, plus smart touches like a fridge stocked with ice cream and all the fixin's for s'mores if you book a villa. 2907 Main St., Brewster, MA oceanedge.com.
The recent revamp of this charming Victorian inn brings a welcome bit of chic to Oak Bluffs. Tracey Overbeck Stead, an Austin-based interior designer who recently decked out the lobby of the W hotel in Dallas (and who has a house on the island), has outfitted each of the Dockside's 21 rooms with sophisticated new beds, wallpaper, and lighting, creating a fresh, summery vibe. The unique amenities, meanwhile—a "digital concierge' that you can text questions to, a Rolls-Royce that shuttles guests to and from the ferry—are another welcome touch. Oak Bluffs, MA 2557,
In Boston, the "mists of Avalon" refer not to the foggy shores hiding King Arthur's final resting place, but the dry ice curling around the feet of the club's performers. Whether your taste is for Aimee Mann or Franz Ferdinand, the light show and acoustics in this cavernous ballroom are fantastic—as is its size, which is midway between nosebleed big and sell-out small. 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, MA .
This course, now more than a decade old, is worth the haul to Devens: It has the wide-open, lush fairways and sloping sand traps that are typically found in the Southwest—but amid stunning New England foliage. That kind of beauty doesn't come cheap (expect to drop $99 for a weekend round during peak season), but at least you can reserve your tee time online. 15 Bulge Rd., Devens, MA redtailgolf.net.
Seaport Hotel's Wave Health and Fitness Club isn't the swankiest place to swim in Boston (that would be the InterContinental). But it's far from crowded, well kept, and refreshingly affordable. The skylight-enhanced pool offers three warm, four-and-a-half-foot-deep lanes, and the $15 day fee includes the eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and plenty of workout equipment. Bonus: Kids are just $5 a pop. 1 Seaport Ln., Boston, MA 2210, seaportboston.com.
The Four Seasons' lounge caters to both sorts of solo patrons: those who find themselves alone, and those who wish to be left alone. The skilled barkeeps are the city's quickest studies of stag drinkers, able to gauge whether you're up for a chat, a snack, or a stiff drink and silence. And the Bristol's cozy appointments make it perfectly suited to parties of one. 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, .
This is not the place to go to make some great new musical discovery—the Pavilion's schedule remains heavy on well-known arena rockers. But there's no better spot to catch your favorite '80s band than this open-air venue, especially once the sun sets, the breeze picks up, and you settle in with a couple of frosty beers. Bonus: As Boston's waterfront continues to develop, so do the Pavilion's pre- and post-show drinking and dining options, such as Morton's, Legal Test Kitchen, and Atlantic Beer Garden. 290 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 2210, bankofamericapavillion.net.
Fundraising is still under way to save this beloved Harvard Square institution from the pernicious encroachments of Netflix and TiVo, and the outcome remains uncertain. All the more reason to buy tickets for the Brattle's screenings of foreign gems, art-house premieres, tributes to Golden Age Hollywood, and annual Bugs Bunny Film Festival. Skip the DVD for once, and watch Casablanca the way it was meant to be seen: on the big (independent) screen. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 2138, brattlefilm.org.
Some may complain that it's a bit pricey, but it still delivers the highest-caliber jazz acts in town. From Sonny Rollins to Herbie Hancock, Don Byron to Tito Puente, you know that Raggattastars have earned their way to the top. Sure, the atmosphere's more still upper lipstick than whiskey-soaked back-alley, but sit close to the stage and close your eyes. The Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Cambridge, MA .