Elizabeth Smith to the rescue: When we rang needing immediate attention for our graying tresses, the stylist fit us in the next day—and matched our brunette locks perfectly, all while maintaining an intuitive balance of chattiness and quietude as we lounged on a couch, waiting for our color to develop. The best part? The salon’s gentle, ammonia-free dye meant we didn’t leave with a burning scalp after color correction—just glossy, shiny hair. skysalonlincoln.com.
Given its northerly location, Newburyport has an edge over other area markets: It's able to draw in vendors from southern New Hampshire. But it's the sheer magnitude of the selection—which ranges from standard-issue fruits and veggies to raw honey, locally caught fish and shellfish, and sustainably raised goat meat, not to mention prepared goodies like sweet and savory tarts from Puff—that draws crowds. Sundays May through November, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tannery, Newburyport, MA 1950, thenewburyportfarmersmarket.org.
Calling a restaurant "very New York" may not be a politically correct compliment in these parts. And yet, the label fits. With its sleek design, sake sommelier, and mind-blowing food (we've heard at least one diner, upon sampling the foie gras nigiri with balsamic chocolate kabayaki, wish out loud that "sex could be this good"), O Ya outshines all the stunning additions to the city's dining scene this year—not to mention anything we've tasted you-know-where. 9 East St., Boston, MA .
In Dante's Inferno, Canto 6 describes the circle of hell reserved for the gluttonous. In J.P., it's a cheery bakery that lures patrons with dark chocolate cookies studded with tart dried cherries and buttery almond croissants dusted with powdered sugar. Nothing's too sweet or too rich, even the French canelles—champagne cork-size treats made with caramelized vanilla and rum. If you're looking to give into temptation, this is the place. 3346 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, MA canto6bakery.com.
Unless 'fashion victim' is the desired look, carting a mountain of logo-stamped luggage through Logan is simply gauche. Then again, so is cramming the overhead bin with junky duffels. For travel gear that's both upscale and functional, London Harness is the ticket. This place rocks enough quality baggage to cover a Brangelina family vacation, including sleek Bric's rollers and handsome Ghurka twill-and-leather weekenders. And at the Wellesley flagship's in-store Tumi boutique, the selection of classic nylon suitcases and garment bags is unbeatable. 45 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 2482, .
Though we're not usually fans of national chains, Sephora's credentials in this category are unimpeachable (as anyone who's browsed its well-stocked shelves can attest). The store's Pru outpost has an even bigger selection of cosmetics than its other locations in the area, which is why we head here for tried-and-trues (Nars, Lancome, Makeup For Ever, Tarte) and new obsessions (Hourglass, Temptu, Buxom). Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2199, sephora.com.
The expert bicyclists who double as the sales staff of ATA not only love to ride, they love to ride what they sell: a wide selection of bikes, accessories, and parts ranging from recreational hybrids to top-of-the-line racing models. A family business, the full-service store will do tune-ups or dole out maintenance advice just as happily as it will sell you a new set of wheels. 1773 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA atabike.com/.
Rarely is a salon so valued its devotees whisper its name like a password. That's the case with Umi, and no wonder. Owner Jeffrey Dauksevich approaches the craft of the coiffure with a time-tested reverence for flawless precision and daring creativity. There's no air-kissing or fluffing up of egos here—just a seriously talented set of stylists who are shear experts at everything from five-point cuts to soothing scalp treatments. Every part of the experience delights, right down to the mini bottles of Italian soda served to thirsty clients. 75 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
While not entirely indie—it's part of the Kimpton hotel group—Nine Zero is a singularly splendid place to lay your head. All rooms boast robes, European linens, and windows that open to let in the fresh air. But if you're lucky enough to book one of the Premier View offerings—or, even better, the Cloud Nine Suite—you'll be treated to some of the best vistas in the city. 90 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2108, ninezero.com.
Matsumoto is an international celebrity in her field. Part of a rising generation of specialists who have quietly revolutionalized the profession, she combines Chinese medical theory with Western pathology. Her unique methods—dubbed simply the Kiiko system—are taught in acupuncture schools worldwide. She's written dozens of articles and textbooks and lectured throughout the United States, Europe, Israel, and her native Japan. Yet she's hardly the austere guru type—her patients remain her top priority. Newton Acupuncture Clinic, 1647 Washington St., Newton, MA .
The waves that lap practically at the doorstep of this harborside spa can take decades to turn a shard of glass into a smooth, luminous thing of beauty. Good thing SpaScape's pros work faster. Armed with bespoke scrubs of sea salt and fine oils, seaweed wraps, and Maine mud treatments, they polish clients from head to toe in an hour or two, as the tranquil ocean vibe smooths out any rough-edged psyches. 3 Mill Wharf Plz., Scituate, MA 2066, spascapedayspa.com.
Boston doesn't have many patisseries, and our bakeries feel like coffee spots that just happen to have cinnamon buns and cupcakes. Café Vanille, however, seems like a French pastry shop that just happens to serve espresso and tea. One look at the lineup of flaky napoleons, ganache-glazed éclairs, colorful petits fours and fruit tarts, and buttery brioche makes the cookie-and-donut offerings everywhere else seem downright dull. 70 Charles St., Boston, MA 2108, frenchmemories.com.
Most sommeliers keep their servers so oenologically clueless, it feels like a job-security scheme. Not so with Silirie, who arms every associate in Barbara Lynch's multi-restaurant gastro-empire with knowledge that extends far beyond by-the-glass pours. Ask about any esoteric bottling on Silirie's famously eclectic lists, and you'll be met with exuberant expertise, not blank stares.
Enough already with the fruity cocktail fads that result in sticky fingers and killer hangovers. The ultimate in cool libations is an inventive concoction so succulent it's destined to achieve classic status. No. 9 Park's palmyra is a deceptively simple and delightfully potent martini made with Rain vodka, fresh lime juice, and mint simple syrup. The unknown origin of its name is part of the drink's mystique (according to the bartenders), though it's rumored to have been inspired by Prohibition-era brews. No. 9 Park, 9 Park St., Boston, MA .
Serving huge portions of flavorful curries and other Thai specialties at affordable prices, Brown Sugar is a perfect match for the tastes and budgets of the undergrads, musicians, and medical students who live in this neighborhood. In addition to less fiery offerings like "Siamese Twins" (shrimp and chicken in a sweet-and-sour sauce), there are such authentic dishes as laarb gai (minced chicken in a spicy lime sauce). Service is prompt but friendly, and the free parking—limited, but a rarity in these parts—means outsiders can enjoy one of the city's best pad thais, too. 129 Jersey St., Boston, MA brownsugarcafe.com/.