If shoes are the ultimate in therapeutic fixes, then Saks's fitting area could double as a women's support group. Just slide on a pair of gleaming Prada Mary Janes or Michael Kors laser-cut pumps, and watch your mood improve. Buckle up some strappy and teetering Jimmy Choo stilettos, or take a turn in Kate Spade flower-adorned slides—suddenly, you're a new woman. Sculpted Sergio Rossis, sweet Burberry espadrilles, and Vera Wang satin slingbacks all beckon from the shelves, promising immediate gratification, head to toe. Did we mention the Chanel fuchsia wedges? The Blahnik leopard print mules or the Marc Jacobs kitten heels? They're all here, offering true satisfaction for the sole. Prudential Center, Boston, MA saksfifthavenue.com/.
Whether you're in the mood to divest yourself of some previously enjoyed goods, or score a bargain on somebody else's, Boomerangs stands ready to help—and help others while doing it. This funky resale shop offers new and recycled merchandise: home furnishings, CDs, books, clothes, shoes, sporting goods, and collectibles, all at bargain prices, with the proceeds going to the AIDS Action Committee. We spotted an Yves St. Laurent men's suit for $24, an Escada wool crepe dress for $20, and a 31-piece set of Royal Doulton china for $30. Dependable Clenaers provides free dry-cleaning services (as well as dropoff facilities at each of its locations), so all clothing is fresh and clean. 80 Canal Street, Boston, MA .
Unless they're dead (or dyed), we welcome almost any flowers that come our way—which is why it takes an outstanding florist to go beyond pretty, and deliver pretty damn amazing. Winston earns points for reliably gorgeous arrangements, but just as with designer clothing, if we can tell where it came from we're already bored. Ilex is the go-to for exotic numbers, yet its over-the-top approach can feel, well, too over-the-top. By contrast, Twig composes innovative, cleanly artistic bouquets, all fresh enough to last a week. A DIY option accommodates buyers on a carnation budget, while a home decorating service will thrill those who dream of a bed of roses. 558 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2114, twigboston.com.
In a neighborhood that's more about hot dogs than haute cuisine, it can be hard to get a decent meal. That's where Audubon Circle comes in. This darkly lit, sleekly cool restaurant with the long slate bar has a small but satisfying menu of dressed-up pub grub, from the downright delicious burger with spicy home fries to the rare seared tuna with garlic mashed potatoes. The legendary pot stickers (dumplings and steamed vegetables served in a paper takeout container) can provoke food fights—over who gets the last bite. And thanks to the expertly mixed drinks and ample supply of local and national beers on tap, there's plenty to please diners and drinkers who long for more than the watered-down suds at Fenway. 838 Beacon St., Boston, MA auduboncircle.us/.
Chinese eateries have long been stuck between a wok and a hard place: hew to the Americanized hit parade, or risk alienating the crowds craving kung pao. Thankfully, a coup is afoot, with renegade restaurateurs positing fiery Szechwan as a sexier alternative to Cantonese lite. Fragrant camphor-smoked duck, velvety beef braised in mouth-numbing neon-orange peppercorn oil—all safely segregated, menuwise, from more broadly palatable fare. The newly chili-head-friendly New Shanghai wins points for Chinatown proximity and the addictive chung qing spicy chicken. Yet we're irresistibly drawn to Malden for FuLoon's haunting home-style bean curd, the entire 'Wok Baked' series, and the bottomless pitchers of soothing H20. 375 Main St., Malden, MA 2148, fuloonrestaurant.com.
Pool halls pop with American romanticism: Fast Eddie Felson, bourbon, the small-time hustle. They're supposed to be stark, shadowy places with heroin jazz playing softly, and a slow-twirling fan in the corner. And even though it's air-conditioned, with comfortable couches lining the back wall, Flat Top Johnny's can hold its own. It's tucked away in Kendall Square, with an unpretentious bar area and a laid-back mix of regulars who enjoy Coltrane as much as the Foo Fighters. For a first date on a Saturday night or for playing hooky on a Tuesday afternoon, it's a great spot to hide away and imagine, when you finally hit that bank shot in the corner, that you've just beaten Minnesota Fats. One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA flattopjohnnys.com/.
You don't have to belong to the Sports Club/LA to experience the stress-relieving, muscle-soothing magic of a massage by Maggie Kesler at the health club's on-site Splash Spa. Of course, after an hour or so having each and every tense muscle manipulated into relaxation (Kesler's technique combines a therapeutic blend of traditional Swedish strokes with pressure-point work and shiatsu), and a few minutes in the oversized steam and sauna rooms, you might find yourself signing up for a membership—or at least another massage appointment. Kesler has a way of leaving clients' previously aching muscles rejuvenated, restored, and ready for action, whether that's a heart-taxing spinning class or simply the long drive home. 4 Avery St., Boston, MA .
Somewhere between couture and casual wear, there is the striking work of Daniela Corte. First, there are her designs: wrap shirts that evoke Pucci's colors and Prada's lines; pants that run from pristine silk trousers to leopard-print capris; and vibrant halter dresses that would be at home on both Newbury Street and Cannes beach. Then there's her fit: each piece custom-cut to your exact measurements, and in the precise fabric, pattern, and color you want it. The pint-sized Corte, every inch a style doyenne, takes customers beyond mere label obsession and into the realm of real fashion: She fuses cuts from the best international designers, puts her own distinct stamp on the pastiche, and tailors it to perfectly flatter every customer—all from a tiny Back Bay studio. In a town that tends to be too buttoned-up in the clothing department, Corte is just the right fit. 271 Newbury St., Boston, MA danielacorte.com/.
For a town that prides itself on its seafood, it can be tough to find a seafood restaurant that goes beyond the standard boiled lobsters or watery clam chowder. Enter KingFish Hall, where chef-owner Todd English has designed a menu that delights, with everything from traditional lobster rolls—sweet and tender lobster meat on a buttery, toasted nest of bread with just enough mayo and celery leaves to hold it together—to more complicated dishes, such as miso-marinated cod. There's also the "dancing fish" of the day (herb- and butter-basted fish placed on individual rotating skewers that spin around a circular wood-burning pit) and a daily chilled and briny selection of raw shellfish. As for the chowder, there's the not-so-traditional New England style, thick and delightfully creamy, or the ever-changing daily varieties accompanied by homemade oyster crackers. 188 South Market Building, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA .
The long, winding boardwalks and grassy dunes at Crane Beach can magically readjust the tired mind of even the most citified creature. After sinking your toes into the beach's soft white sand, you may decide to trade in your power suit for a bathing suit—permanently. Bird lovers, bring your binoculars—Crane is home to more than 200 aviary species, including wild turkeys. Getting there a problem? For those without wheels, take the commuter rail to downtown Ipswich, and then bike five miles to the beach. For those who drive: Stop to go antiquing in nearby Essex on the way. For kids of all ages: Don't miss Crane's annual sand-sculpture competition on August 12. Beach amenities: ample parking, refreshments, clean bathhouses, and outside showers. Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA .
The most important thing in the most important sports town in America is, aside from victory itself, finding the right place to soak up all the action. If you can't be courtside or behind home plate, that place is the Fours, the venerable North Station sports bar that's as classic as Fenway turf and Garden parquet. Whereas newer suds-and-scores hangouts tend to come wallpapered in TVs (leaving us feeling as if we're trapped in a Best Buy), the Fours leaves ample room for signed jerseys, vintage game photos, and other memorabilia it's accumulated in its 30-odd years. Adding to the ambiance: Many a sports scribe and team executive have been known to tip back a glass here after a game at next-door neighbor TD Garden. 166 Canal St., Boston, MA 2114, thefours.com.
So many flavors, so little Dexatrim. First there are the standards: chocolate, malted vanilla, strawberry. Then come the more esoteric mixes, such as amaretto, carob, and Dutch orange chocolate. They're each the base for Boston's zenith of all things sweet, cold, and frothy: the Herrell's frappe. (A little schooling for confused out-of-towners: In New England, a milk shake is milk and syrup, without ice cream. A frappe is a blend of all three.) And what texture, dense enough to make you work at drawing the first sip through the straw, hit with just the right ice-cream-to-milk ratio, and icy enough to hold up on the hottest day. What else did you expect from local ice cream bodhisattva Steve Herrell? 155 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA herrells.com/.
To endorphin addicts, East Coast is the place to go for a dose of intensely spiced, pan-tropical dinners, but brunch fanatics know it offers something more: It's also home to a truly spectacular Sunday brunch. Be sure to eat light the night before: You'll want to save room for the soul-satisfying fresh fish tacos, avocado and black bean omelets, and (in case you need it) hangover hash. The bloody mary bar lets you make up your own glass, preferably loaded with fresh lime. Tabasco, fresh tomato juice, Absolut, and a zap of Worcestershire sauce. The rest is simple. Kick back to the room's low buzz in your spacious booth with a friend or two, and dig into plates of grilled fresh pineapple wedges and smooth-as-custard grits. It just doesn't get any better. 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA eastcoastgrill.net/.
Dyke Night impresario Kristen Porter comes up a winner either way, as the only worthy contenders here are Second Saturdays (at bouncin' Fenway nightclub Machine) and Menage à Trois, a.k.a. Fourth Fridays (at J.P.'s Milky Way), both dance events that she masterminded and that feature her stellar roster of female DJs. Though Machine's got by far the bigger crowd and the pole dancing (oh, the hotness), the indie-cool Milky Way's got our heart. Maybe it's the lounge's factory-chic new digs at the Brewery Complex. Or that the small space makes things more friendly and intimate. Or maybe it's just the irony of having all this gynomite going off next to a towering defunct smokestack. 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, milkywayjp.com.
Cobblestones are charming. Replacing a $900 pair of limited-edition size 11 Louboutins because a heel snapped off in that picturesque paving material—again—is not. We scoured the city for a place that could doctor our ripped soles and scratched leather, and refasten the aforementioned broken heel, plus replace stray straps and buckles and refurbish unusual materials in unusual colors, but it wasn't until we looked west that we found our fix, some 20 minutes away in Waban. The reverse commute is worth it: The walls of the tiny shop are lined with boxes of rehabbed Ferragamos, Chanels, and Pradas, all mended expertly within a week. Going anywhere else would be like sending the Rolls to a Jiffy Lube. 1637A Beacon St., Waban, MA 2468, .