Although we've officially gone into mourning with the recent closing of the Spa on Newbury, Guiliano makes us want to throw our black veils to the wind. Whether you're a stressed bride-to-be in need of that mandatory glow for the big day, or a burned out businessperson ready to toss your computer out the window, a visit to Giuliano will restore your sanity as fast as you can say "detoxifying body wrap." Guiliano's "optimal beauty through nature" offerings include everything from old standbys like facials, manicures, and pedicures to more trendy pamperings like self-tanning-lotion applications, reflexology, glycolic treatments, and acupuncture. In a word: Heaven. 338 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
In a town where moving is a way of life (and everyone moves at precisely the same moment), finding a mover to do the job quickly and affordably can be a challenge. When we needed to move on a Sunday and at the last minute, though, the friendly people at Nick's said it wouldn't be a problem. And it wasn't. The courteous, energetic moving team got the job done quickly, safely, and efficiently, with no complaints about fourth-floor walkups. What's more, this moving service is comparatively inexpensive, with hourly rates of $115 for a three-man team or $90 for a two-man team—all of which makes the yearly relocating habit in this town affordable vice. 495 Columbia St., Somerville, MA bostonmamovers.net/.
Reigning sports bar champ Sports Depot almost lost its title this year to a cozy little bar in Coolidge Corner—that is, until the latter invoked a 90-minute table rule. Which is why the Sports Depot takes the trophy once again. Sports lovers can lounge at this sprawling former railroad station as long as they like, noshing on burgers, fries, and other pub standards and sipping on ice-cold drafts until long after the game has ended. With 80 TVs, a $9.99 all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch, and seating for more than 300, there's plenty of room to settle in for a long debate on the merits of Nomah versus Jeetah. 353 Cambridge St., Allston, MA sportsdepot.com/.
Who needs the Lower East Side when you have Zaftigs? This nouveau deli bustles with families, couples, and lone regulars who come in for its "new Jewish" cuisine (just like old Jewish, but with a few twists, including a flavorful Oriental noodle salad for those nights when you just don't feel like gefilte fish and corned beef). For that, and for those more traditional moments when you can't fight off that craving for chopped liver, Zaftigs offers a colorful café atmosphere (and café prices) and rye stacked to the ceiling with a choice of two dozen meats. 335 Harvard St., Brookline, MA zaftigs.com.
Nantucket is where billionaires get away from it all, where they can pretend nothing satisfies more than a simple plate of baked scrod. When reality (and highly exacting tastes) sets back in, there's American Seasons, where chef Michael LaScola serves southwestern-inspired summer squash bisque topped with marinated Gulf shrimp, tomatillo relish, and chipotle crema; local farm greens done up with sherry-pecan vinaigrette; and other distinctive dishes—and the low-lit interior promotes cozy intimacy for every tax bracket. 80 Centre St., Nantucket Island, MA 2554, americanseasons.com.
If you're looking for white water, who needs Maine? There's Class-4 rapids just 40 miles from Boston, in Lowell on the Concord River, and the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust has done a remarkable nature-conservancy job. Not exactly expected either, in the heart of deindustrialized mill country. The Lowell white-water course, fed by spring runoff, winds its way through Thoreau's Portage—the stretch of the Concord River that Henry David Thoreau never dared to take—and culminates in the Lower Locks at the Pawtucket Canal. Unfortunately, this year's season has already passed. Lowel Parks & Conservation Trust, Lowell, MA .
Puffy's not the best shopping companion: drooling on merchandise, constantly demanding attention, invading strangers' personal space. Any place that overlooks —welcomes, even—such unseemly habits scores big with us. This year Polka Dog expanded to accommodate its lines of animal gear with voluminous bins of squeaky cupcakes and rubber telephones, walls of collars, piles of beds, and accessories for literal clothes hounds. As if all that weren't enough, there's the popular buffet of inventive edibles, for when your guests' shoes are no longer an option: liver chips, salmon coins, and catnip "pawbreakers" for delicate breeds; cow thigh bones for those with heartier appetites. 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA polkadog.com.
Few food-world darlings have gotten more love of late than chef Tony Maws; everyone from Martha Stewart to James Beard has gushed. But for all the highfalutin accolades Maws has received for his inventive dinner menu, we can't help gravitating to Craigie's always-packed bar for his more-casual fare. There you can sup on food that qualifies as both hearty and succulent—and that never fails to satisfy: crispy fried pig tails, roasted bone marrow, and the grass-fed burger that's become as famous as Maws's other, more-studied creations. 853 Main St., Cambridge, MA 2139, craigieonmain.com.
McWhirk and partner Antoniou work out of A&M Motors, 47 Webster Ave., Somerville. A&M won't do body work, and 90 percent of their effort is put into foreign cars, but they're reliable and will work on American models if asked (reasonable, too; sixteen dollars an hour for labor). "We do repairs, and we stand behind them," McWhirk says. "We're pretty open. We figure out what has to be fixed, what should be done first. I treat each job like my own car." A & M Motos, 47 Webster Ave., Somerville, MA .
After 65 years of bringing movie magic to Harvard Square, this repertory theater has left us with memories as cinematic as any scene projected onto the screen: Where else could we see John Hodgman introduce The Dead Zone, snicker at Trash Night’s grade-Z dreck, and experience David Lynch’s Lost Highway in 35mm—all in the same month? Harvard alum Natalie Portman must feel the same way, given that she chose the Brattle to stage her Boston Calling Film Festival. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138, brattlefilm.org.
Going to the ballet is usually either a grand night out or an intimate black-box affair, but with this Cambridge-based company, it can be both. Presented in the cozy Sanctuary Theatre, which is itself within the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, each performance feels like it’s been prepared just for you. And in some ways, it has: Often featuring original choreography, the beautiful works are usually staged exclusively here, and set to an eclectic musical repertoire that ranges from the comforting tones of Bach and Schubert to the bracing modernism of Olivier Messiaen and Philip Glass. 400 Harvard St., Cambridge, MA 02138, ballettheatre.org.
Soaring ceilings, marble accents, mahogany casework, and a huge waft of fresh bud? What was once the main branch of the Brookline Bank is now the area’s finest medical marijuana dispensary. Here you’ll find a sampling of more than 60 highly calibrated strains of green, all grown in Franklin, designed to give patients relief from chronic pain and nausea. NETA’s extremely professional approach to manufacturing is evident everywhere, from the illuminated cases to the beautifully designed packaging of their edibles, topicals, vape products, and flowers. 160 Washington St., Brookline, MA 02114, netacare.org.
Boston has a long, rapturous history of genius buskers, from Susan Dietrich Schneider, the infamous "Space Lady" of the ’80s, to such future stars as Tracy Chapman, Mary Lou Lord, and Amanda Palmer. But none has so captured the soul of the city as Keytar Bear, our unofficial musical mascot. Yes, our funky spirit animal—the furry king of costume-core—has been twice attacked by thugs. But he's now back in action, appearing with Guster in January and welcoming the Fenway faithful with slinky grooves on Opening Day.
It has what a good sporting store should—which is to say, everything—but what sets City Sports apart is customer satisfaction. When we asked a sales associate which kind of catcher's mitt our nephew would need for his first season of Little League, we were impressed by the quick, unfazed response: He doesn't need a catcher's mitt. Better to get him a normal, cheaper glove. Kids that age don't throw hard anyway. If we'd actually had a nephew (some liberties were taken with the truth for research purposes), that's exactly what we would have done. 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 2138, citysports.com.
If you didn't even know you needed a baby-care timer, pee-pee teepee, or pacifier pod, make a beeline for local chainlet Magic Beans to get a primer on modern-day parenting supplies before the stork touches down. The married-with-kids owners, Sheri and Eli Gurock, and their gung-ho employees have done all the research for you (exhaustively reported on their blog, at spillingthebeans.net), testing hundreds of products in deciding what to stock. The result: everything your own parents never had when you were little, but wish they did. 200 Linden St., Wellesley, MA 2482, mbeans.com.