Since it reopened with The Lion King last year, the restored Opera House hasn't drawn the most inspiring of productions. But it does look great. The 2,600-seat theater is a jewel from the dying days of vaudeville, and it gleams with the sort of Beaux Arts gilt that ought to shame more-modern buildings: chandeliers, murals, even period-style urinals. Now if we could only get some shows to match . . . 539 Washington St., Boston, MA bostonoperahouseonline.com/.
Who needs waitresses in jackboots or martinis with funny names? You came here to play pool, not tipple and gawk at the scenery. Johnny's feels like a downbeat 1940s pool hall updated with a punk-rock vibe that cuts through the attitude dripping from those billiards palaces downtown. Funky conceptual art hangs above a dozen or so tables—enough so there's rarely a wait, but not so many that you feel like you're racking 'em up in a warehouse. One Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA flattopjohnnys.com/.
No need to consult with a wardrobe stylist when prepping for a classy date night at the Franklin. Just come as you are, slide into a black leather booth, and let the low lighting, art-covered walls, and excellent wine list loosen you up. From there, the food—spicy marinated cucumbers, cornmeal-crusted catfish, and smoky spareribs—will put anyone in the mood. 278 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA franklincafe.com.
In an effort to revive the lost art of everyday note-writing, Kate Kellman and Isabel Bonenfant founded Of Note Stationers, a small paper-goods company that prints simple, minimalist cards and stationery. The duo insists no occasion is too small for purposeful writing, and with simple messages like "Glad you’re here" and "I think of you often, and I want you to know" their cards prove that taking pen to paper isn’t just for birthdays. MA ofnotestationers.com.
Dayna Gamba brandishes a pair of clippers like a sculptor’s tool, deftly shaping locks of hair into works of art. Trained as a barber and a stylist, she’s the rare double threat who can give clients a graceful fade or a fierce bob. An unsolved mystery is how she’s able to be both so precise with her cuts and so charming with her conversation. But there is no question that adventurous style mavens, buttoned-up CEOs, and everyone in between will leave her chair absolutely in love with Dayna—and their hair. 403 D St., Boston, MA 02210, loveandmercysalon.com.
If you don’t like to sweat, B/spoke’s cycling classes are not for you. Those who relish getting drenched in the name of a good, clean workout, however, will appreciate this studio’s state-of-the-art bikes, pump-you-up tracks, and peppy instructors, who use hand weights and core work to target more than just the legs in heart-pounding sessions. Amp up your experience with B/spoke’s "hot" ride, a hilly adventure in sizzling temps, and feel the burn. 101 Federal St., Boston, MA 02110, bspokestudios.com.
In a town saturated with the same old prepackaged bar trivia, Aeronaut has perfected the art of the artisanal quiz. Every Tuesday night at this zany brew hall, local hosts read handcrafted questions on everything from famous drummers to authors who use pen names. Bring your own snacks or enjoy delivery pizza accompanied by an ice-cold glass of "Dr. Nandu," Aeronaut's oh-so-good IPA. And be sure to show up early—trivia night here fills up fast. 14 Tyler St., Somerville, MA 02143, aeronautbrewing.com.
Rockport’s waterfront downtown is straight out of Hollywood casting. Limited parking means limited cars to impede your Sunday stroll (catch a ride in from the outskirts on the free shuttle bus), and stroll you shall: to boutiques that go beyond the tourist schlock, art galleries run by actual artists, shops dealing in such small-town staples as homemade ice cream and candy, and solid restaurants, from swanky spots to clam shacks.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's our mantra when it comes to the rug selection (pictured) at Landry & Arcari, where you'll find everything from antique Oriental numbers to long-piled Persians to hand-knotted classics. With an unparalleled collection sourced from rug makers all over the world, this mainstay has all you'll ever need to turn your floors into functional works of art. 333 Stuart St., Boston, MA 02116, landryandarcari.com.
Come gala season, socialites and fashionistas make this light, bright Newbury Street boutique their one-stop shop. That’s because owner Leslee Shupe scours fashion-week shows for distinctive dresses that you won’t see on anyone browsing the department stores: trendy crochet frocks from Giambattista Valli (easily one of her favorite designers), bold and artful sheaths from Roberto Cavalli, breezy bohemian tunics from Dodo Bar Or, and rocker-chic Mugler cocktail dresses. 134 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, serenella-boston.com.
Farewell, diamond studs and plain strands of pearls: At Quadrum, each piece is a one-of-a-kind work of art, sourced from the world’s most talented jewelry makers. That means you’ll find dramatic earrings encrusted with moonstones and white diamonds, rose-cut sapphire sparklers, and chunky quartz necklaces flecked with gold—future heirlooms that will stand out today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. The Shops at Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, quadrumgallery.com.
In a time of disposable blades and unisex salons, you’d be forgiven for thinking the straight razor shave had gone the way of Brylcreem and wooden teeth. But practitioners of the lost art still remain, including master barbers Anthony and Joseph Berriola. If you haven’t experienced the pleasure of shaving oils, hot towels, and a warm lather, do plant yourself in their Somerville barber chair. It’ll be the best $25 you’ve ever spent. 308 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02144, razorsbarbershop.com.
Healthy hair is owner and lead stylist Andrea Sealey’s main goal—and it shows in every masterful style she creates inside her chic Dot. Ave. salon. Sealey’s recently expanded list of services makes the space a one-stop shop for everything from kinky twists and micro-link extensions to always-silky silk presses. Her braids, meanwhile, are true works of art—no surprise given the Roxbury native has been at it since she was 10 years old. 1690 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, MA 02122, bostonhairnista.com.
It’s not summer if you’re not sitting in the grass by the Charles, taking in some tunes at the Hatch Shell. The art deco venue best known for the Pops’ annual Fourth of July extravaganza more than makes good on its mission of bringing classical music to the people, with a free concert series that runs all summer long and a top-notch sound system. All you have to bring is a blanket and a picnic. 47 David G. Mugar Way, Boston, MA hatchshell.com.
To newbies, the fine art of lash enhancement can seem downright confusing. Extensions, lifts, tints—where to begin? Thankfully, Cori Kurker is here to break it down for you in her cozy Beacon Hill studio, then deliver the goods, whether you decide on a classic full set with come-hither appeal, an on-trend curl, or simply a darker lash hue to accent those twinkling eyes. 135 Charles St., Boston, MA crkbeauty.com.