Celebrate art in all of its forms—that’s the mission of this bash on the banks of the Charles, which brings musicians, poets, and even circus artists to 150,000 of the area’s culture vultures. No matter who takes the stage, though, the prime feature of this festival is its interactivity for the whole family: think art tables for the kids and the goofy and wonderful People’s Sculpture Racing invitational, where moving artworks compete based on aesthetics and speed. MA 02139, cambridgema.gov/arts/programs/riverfestival.
Kendall Square has never seen anything like the Smoke Shop. The brainchild of world-championship pit master Andy Husbands, this is a stylish take on a timeless barbecue joint, but with a whiskey program that would make Jack Daniel blush. In other words, if you’re looking for the smokiest, juiciest brisket around, and want to wash it down with a flight of whiskey, welcome home. Multiple locations. One Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA 02139, thesmokeshopbbq.com.
With past clients including Edith Wharton and collaborators ranging from Saul Steinberg to Frank Lloyd Wright, Schumacher’s reach travels far beyond simple home design. Whether you’re searching for a sleek geometric pattern or classic herringbone to cover your walls, you can shop easy knowing you’re alongside the arbiters of taste. Boston Design Center, One Design Center Place, Ste. 529, Boston, MA 02210, fschumacher.com.
The illuminated storefront at Neena’s flagship store on Boylston Street beckons patrons with a covetable selection of Tech Lighting chandeliers, Louis Poulsen pendants, and Artemide lamps. The highly trained staff not only will help you choose among contemporary, transitional, and classic styles, they’ll also advise on which fixtures will look the best in your home. 380 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116, neenaslighting.com.
Transparency tops FBN Construction’s list of priorities, and that’s a good thing. The firm’s commitment to communication—to say nothing of its proven planning and building skills—practically guarantees satisfaction, whether you’re overhauling the kitchen in your high-rise condo, creating the ultimate master suite in your suburban Colonial, or simply designing a functional yet elegant home office with loads of built-ins. 17 Wolcott Ct., Boston, MA 02136, fbnconstruction.net.
Ever stopped to wonder where your shoes come from? Peter Sacco did. Deeply troubled by the economic inequality he saw while on vacation in Central America, he dedicated his life—and his business—to finding a way to help. The designer’s high-quality, made-to-order leather boots and loafers are created by craftspeople in Guatemala who are paid 75 percent above the market rate, providing them with a livable wage. In other words, there’s plenty of soul in these classic soles. Bow Market, One Bow Market Way, Somerville, MA 02143, adelanteshoes.com.
Islanders and visitors alike have been buzzing about the recently opened Greydon House, and for good reason. A visual stunner featuring handpainted tiles and custom Roman and Williams furnishings, the 18-room boutique inn boasts common areas infused with a flora-inspired signature scent (which you can take home as a souvenir) and an on-site bar and bistro overseen by Michelin-starred chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware. 17 Broad St., Nantucket, MA 2554, greydonhouse.com.
A bagpiper who leads guests through a forest to the reception, a private fireworks display above a string-lit al fresco dinner party—with Britt Cole and Francie Dorman running the show, the sky is the limit. The luxury event planners work with only 10 couples a year, so you know you'll have their full attention—and all the unbridled creativity that comes with it—throughout the planning process. 42northweddings.com.
The holy land of beauty, Sephora's appeal lies not in its endless selection of cult-favorite products from YSL, Bobbi Brown, and Nars, but in its accessibility: All of the products can be tested, staffers are happy to spend time talking about the differences between liquid eyeliners, and samples of products can be requested at will. While the cosmetics behemoth continues to expand in Boston with locations in the Fenway and Faneuil Hall, the Prudential Center shop remains a product junkie's mecca, with frequent classes on such essential topics as dark-circle correction and "no-makeup makeup." Prudential Center, Boston, MA 02199, sephora.com.
Owner Arlette Kayafas's gallery represents a broad cross-section of Boston art. There are works from established local icons—Jules Aarons's photos of the old West End, First Night founder Clara Wainwright's quilts. But Gallery Kayafas has come into its own as the place to see new queer visual art in Boston from Boston, with artists such as Jess Dugan, Caleb Cole, and A. B. Miner grappling with the fast-shifting politics and emotions of today as they shape the landscape of the future. 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118, gallerykayafas.com.
At this Dorchester megaplex, you'll find everything you need to create a functional home: fridges, dishwashers, washers, dryers, and vacuums from prime brands like Bosch, Sub-Zero, and Wolf. But what really sets Yale apart are the extras: product demos with prominent chefs (Taranta's Jose Duarte was a recent visitor), plus a blog that actually offers helpful advice written by humans, and an outlet that sells overstocked items at up to half off. 296 Freeport St., Dorchester, MA 02122, yaleappliance.com.
Boston certainly doesn’t lack for seafood. But Ostra, the splashy brainchild of restaurateur Jamie Mammano, rises above the rest with a bricolage of whole roasted fish and a lobster-laden paella served tableside. It’s not all pomp and grandeur, though: Dishes like grilled local porgy with spicy Marcona-almond romesco showcase a mastery of simple yet elegant flavors. One Charles St. S., Boston, MA 02116, ostraboston.com.
Unlike the chef-owners who delegate oenophilic duties elsewhere, Michael Serpa has embraced the role of part-time wine professional, curating an astute list that displays the same fastidiousness as his seafood menu. Debating between a sancerre and that stony Sicilian rosé? Just ask the chef: He knows the perfect glass to stand up to the panoply of flavors in his saffron-tinged bouillabaisse. 50 Gloucester St., Boston, MA 02115, selectboston.com.
With top-notch bookings (courtesy of promoters Bowery Boston) and the city's best-designed concert experience, the Sinclair is the House of Blues, only more intimate; the Paradise, without poles obstructing the sightlines; the Middle East downstairs, with a balcony and style. And no other venue can sustain this level of buzz, with surprises like Converse's weeklong run headlined by Passion Pit, Slayer, the Replacements, and Chance the Rapper this past spring. 52 Church St., Cambridge, MA 02138, sinclaircambridge.com.
Card-carrying Bostonians that we are, we couldn't really get behind the whole Boston-cream doughnut thing—until we tried the version at Union Square Donuts, with its thick layer of dark ganache frosting and custardy vanilla-laced center. The shop also specializes in unusual flavors like sea-salted bourbon caramel, PB & J, even pizza (hey, it works). 20 Bow St., Somerville, MA 02143, unionsquaredonuts.com.