Too busy to whip up a dazzling meal for your next dinner party? Just call Kate’s Table. An alum of some of the city’s top restaurants, chef Kate Papaleoni and her team prep dishes in small batches before artfully displaying them in a curated collection of vessels and custom display pieces. And if you want to pretend you did it all yourself, they also offer a drop-off service. katestable.com.
Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center offers wildlife educational programs designed to make nature fun—and a trip to the beach a (gentle) teaching moment. Kids and adults alike can explore marine touch tanks and art exhibits at the center, then set off on guided tours across the refuge’s 52 acres of salt marsh and mud flats, home to more than 300 species of birds, including bald eagles and snowy owls. massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/joppa-flats.
Hire Boston Common Band, and they’ll treat you to a private concert. Watch as the lighting crew heightens the energy in the room with orange and red fixtures, and while the sound team keeps the music playing with state-of-the-art technology—all in the name of ensuring the eight-member group can focus solely on their music. Able to belt out anything from Adele to Queen, the band can even work with hometown hero Keytar Bear—available by request for cocktail hour—to start the evening on a high note. 290 Needham St., Dedham, Massachusetts 02026, bostoncommonband.com.
No hybrid cardio/bags classes or fancy locker rooms here—this small Newbury Street studio is dedicated to the no-frills art of boxing. Former professional Irish boxer John Murray starts by teaching novices proper mitts technique before they move on to heavy bags, all with personal attention from the master himself. Be prepared to keep blocking and throwing punches until the final bell rings. 350 Newbury St., Boston, MA backbayboxing.com.
Browsing Shreve, Crump & Low is a lot like strolling around an art gallery dedicated to the fine work of the Swiss. You’ll see the classics, of course, from Jaeger-LeCoultre to Audemars Piguet, as well as more modern interpretations by Roger Dubuis, all brightly illuminated for your viewing pleasure. Every so often, a true masterpiece will stop you in your tracksfor us, it was IWC’s "Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia," a watch so splendid it’s made only by special request. 39 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, shrevecrumpandlow.com.
There's no shortage of painfully chic, designer-heavy boutiques in the western 'burbs. But this four-year-old spot manages to be both artfully fashionable and charmingly approachable—no sizing up or talking down to customers here. The place is stocked with glamorous yet fun apparel and accessories, and the stylish staffers, including owner Lee Gaston, are happy to help you translate the trends to complement your personal taste. 21 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 2478, bessieblue.com.
A class-A PGA pro who's done teaching stints at the Legends Club of Tennessee and Stow Acres Country Club, Parker gives duffers a 21st-century swing at his high-tech indoor training center, outfitted with state-of-the-art practice bays and virtual rounds at St. Andrews and Pebble Beach. Free advice: "Most golfers slice to the right, and think they should align their feet to the right to fix it. But it's the opposite—align to the left. If you're a slicer, aim your feet to the shortstop and swing to the second baseman." CityGolf, 38 Bromfield St., Boston, MA citygolfboston.com.
Drawing inspiration from art, culture, and global travel, Istanbul-born designer Nirva Derbekyan fills her eponymous line with flowing, feminine dresses and separates that feel utterly of the moment. Relaxed silhouettes belie painstaking construction—hand bead-ing, embroidered straps, and detachable details. And many pieces reveal clever surprises, like a simple jersey halter backed by an incredible pattern of hand-twisted cords, or along cotton tee with leather trimmings. 1628 Massachusetts Ave., 2nd Fl., Lexington, MA 2420, nirva.com.
This gem of a store's Charles Street window is always so artfully filled with brightly colored home furnishings and accessories that passing by without stopping in is nearly impossible. If you're looking for the perfect lamp, chair, or vase, you'll find it here, along with accouterments you may not have considered—beautifully molded candles and gorgeous pillows, for example. With brands including Francesco Rota for Paola Lenti and Reidel, the home selection here is as cutting edge as it gets this side of Paris. 34 Charles St., Boston, MA koodekir.com/.
As moms and dads know a little too well, when kids find a book that works for them, they tend to go back to it again and again. And again. The same applies to our pick in this category. Four-time winner Barefoot Books brims with fresh, cleverly illustrated titles, and doubles as an independent publishing house run by parents dedicated to the art of old-fashioned storytelling. 1771 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2140, barefootbooks.com.
A double winner here. The four-story style mecca is the arbiter of quality men's fashion for both those who are looking to stand out from the crowd and those who are classic and cautious. You'll find Italian made-to-measure masters, standard faves like Ralph Lauren's purple label, and Louis' own line. Fashion-timid men may require some education— not to mention a platinum credit card— but Louis' staff are masters in the art of dressing. 234 Berkeley St., Boston, MA .
When you need paint, Johnson has it, from the usual house paint to aniline wood dyes to oil and watercolor. (There's an art-supply store upstairs— is that perhaps because more artists than we suspected pay the bills by painting houses?) When it runs a sale, you'll find yourself planning the recoloration of rooms you don't even have. 355 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Had Fitzgerald created Jay Gatsby today, he might have installed his debonair protagonist at the Chatham Bars Inn. The 1914 hotel's foyer alone, with its polished wood floors and stately white columns, is redolent of money and understated class. Still a place where old New England summers, the property now encompasses 25 acres of landscaped grounds, four restaurants, a state-of-the-art spa, 40 guestrooms, and 30 private cottages, a handful of which sit on bluffs overlooking the Atlantic. 297 Shore Road, Chatham, MA 2633, .
The scene of the crime is that newly purchased, splendid Victorian house whose floors are battered by years of abuse and besmirched with coats of deck paint. Enter Larry Fidalgo and company—and 24 hours later, stunning pine planks gleam from beneath a coat of crystal-clear polyurethane. Not only does Fidalgo refinish soft- and hardwood floors, but he installs them, as well. Among his clients are the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Restoration Society of Charlestown. Which isn't a bad way to finish. Somerville, MA
A low-key ambiance and an ever changing wellspring of impressively fresh Italian-influenced far—house-made gnocchi, chocolate-hazelnut-espresso semifreddo—accented with locally grown produce earn Sfoglia raves as an artful dining destination. It's also a blissfully ringtone-free one: There are no cell phones allowed here, which is just as well, as you might be tempted to call everyone you know to rave about the food, the décor, the wine list. And, oh yeah, your date. 1402 Lexington Ave., Nantucket, MA 2554, .