Completely private. Ferry daily from New Bedford. Sport fishing, beaches, elegant dining. And hardly a car to be seen. Cuttyhunk Island, MA
The monastic signage, dark oak bar, and arched windows make this cathedral of beer seem like a relic, but the Brookline stalwart has kept mindfully in step with the fast-moving craft scene. Fifteen-plus years in, it’s the area’s most reliable taproom for pints from locals such as Trillium and Allagash, not to mention styles showcasing the eminent Belgian beer culture that it first introduced to area drinkers. 1648 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02445, thepublickhousebeerbar.com.
A rare space that achieves both arena-grade grandeur and club-show intimacy, our House of Blues is big enough to snag headliners like Lana Del Rey, yet sufficiently cozy to feel like a private party for you—and some 1,800 of your closest friends. 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, MA 02215, houseofblues.com.
The up-and-comer in this category is the nearly four-year-old Newtonville Books, but while that otherwise admirable small shop considers its lack of organization quaint and quirky, we just think it's confusing. The system at our pick, the family-owned New England Mobile Book Fair, also doesn't seem at first to make a lot of sense (the books are shelved by publisher) but turns out to be a piece of cake. Plus the relevance for books among the customers and knowledgeable staff is palpable, new hardcovers are discounted 20 to 30 percent, and you can spend contented hours in the endless warehouse-style stacks. 82-84 Needham St., Newton, MA nebookfair.com/.
We'll admit we're skeptical of any salon inside a full-service day spa. Can one place really excel at massages, pedis, and cuts and color? At Spa Ni'Joli, the answer is a resounding yes. The stylists strike the delicate balance between listening to your hair-care woes and delivering advice, and our tresses were all the better for a visit. For all you busy North Shore moms: Ni'Joli also offers babysitting ($5 for two hours). Now that's what we call full service. 116 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen, MA 1844, nijoli.com.
A GA ticket to House of Blues means A) you’re seeing one of your favorite acts, and B) you’re about to move. We love House of Blues for the energy on the floor, whether you’re dropping it low with Lizzo, moshing with August Burns Red, or crying as you hold an iPhone in flashlight mode aloft with Jenny Lewis. Hey, however the music moves you is cool with us. 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, MA houseofblues.com/boston.
When a local institution undergoes a renovation, we take notice. As part of this year's stunning Four Seasons makeover, lumpy old armchairs, timeworn furniture, and outdated décor were tossed to make room for cushy couches, flat-screen TVs, rich comforters, and marble-topped dressers. Add to that the hotel's already unflappable service, prime location, and stellar restaurants—Aujourd'hui and the Bristol Loung—and this sleepover spot has soared back to the level of glamour its brand implies. 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, fourseasons.com.
In a town with no shortage of commendable Thai restaurants, everyone has a favorite. But House of Siam wins us over with both big-picture style and thoughtful details. The duck with red curry alone is worth the trip—perfumed with sweet coconut milk and studded with eggplant and bright-flavored basil. Ditto the "Five King," an aromatic mix of plump shrimp, fried fish, squid, scallops, and mussels in a chile-laden broth. Dive into all of it seated among miniature beaded lamps, curly bamboo, and gilded fixtures set against brick-red walls. Then try to tell us that all Thai restaurants are the same. 542 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA houseofsiamboston.com.
Live gospel music in a mini-museum of folk art, and a Southern-style buffet that includes eggs, fried catfish, breakfast meats, biscuits, fruit salad, and bread pudding. It's a revival meeting cum dining experience that simultaneously satisfies body and soul. 96 Winthrop St., Cambridge, MA .
You'll probably be underwhelmed by the squat, nothing-special exterior, but trust us when we say your reaction to chef Job Yacubian's Mediterranean cuisine will be quite the opposite. In fact, it's the whole diamond-in-the-rough appeal that makes the BYOB meals her—spring pea pudding, potato gnocchi in Parmesan broth, bacon-wrapped yellowfin—so spectacular. Judging by how hard it is to get a reservation and Bittersweet's celebrity clientele, it's safe to say this ever-changing West Tisbury spot (formerly the Red Cat, then Ice House) has hit its stride. 688 State Rd., West Tisbury, MA 2568, .
Since opening in 2011, this all-purpose spot has become Kendall Square's community dining room, the place Cantabrigians gather to enjoy wood-fired pies and hearty salads. Feeling social? Ask to dine at one of the long communal tables. What to Order: The garlic knots; "Kitchen Sink" salad; puttanesca pizza. 500 Technology Sq., Cambridge, MA areafour.com.
Actually, the Bull & Finch Pub in the basement. Very tasty, with a fair amount of vodka. 84 Beacon St., Boston, MA .
They've changed the name, but the drink remains the same—the finest in Boston, with just a hint of horseradish and garlic. 84 Beacon St., Boston, MA .