Booking a dinner on a big, buzzy, splashy restaurant patio is a fine way to impress a first date. But when it's time to build a truly romantic vibe — and settle in for quieter conversation — we love tucking into a meal on more-intimate patios, like the one at Roslindale Village’s Italian charmer Sophia's Grotto; its brick-laid courtyard, hidden from street view, is the ideal spot for Lady and the Tramp–style canoodling. No wonder we’re in love with the al fresco era. 22 Birch St., Roslindale, MA 02131, sophiasgrotto.com.
It’s the closest thing to eating on the deck of a yacht without actually leaving dry land: Perched at the edge of the water, this Edgartown hot spot offers one of the prettiest views around of the boats moored in the harbor and the ferry shuttling people back and forth from Chappy. The view on the plate is equally top-notch — carnivores will delight in the selection of steaks, while seafood lovers can enjoy the fruits of the sea raw, grilled, or in chowder form (also an island best). 2 Main St., Edgartown, MA 02539, atlanticmv.com.
As overused as the word “curated” may be in the retail industry, there’s simply no other way to describe the one-of-a-kind fine art, clothing, accessories, and jewelry hand-selected by owner Mikel Hunter, a veteran of both the fashion and gallery worlds. Small-batch designer duds? Check. Paintings by collectible emerging artists? Check. Everything and anything unexpected? Double check. 11 Winter St., Edgartown, MA 02539, mikelhunter.com.
When Idris Goodwin’s play premiered at Boston’s Company One in 2018, its intimate portrait of an interracial hip-hop trio rocked by the needless police killing of a Black teenager had its finger directly on the national pulse. Hype Man’s pivot to video with the original cast — presented with great sound, ample drama-heightening close-ups, and interstitial animations — added renewed vigor to a production whose timeliness has only increased exponentially in the intervening years. americanrepertorytheater.org; companyone.org
Receiving a wedding invitation in the mail is always exciting. But when your guests open the envelope and discover, say, a custom illustration of your venue or a folding card with the weekend’s agenda, it’ll be even more so. Along with personalized invitation suites, these Southie-based stationery savants can dream up vellum menus, playful cocktail cards, and foilstamped napkins. And if you don’t have the time (or the calligraphy skills) to address the envelopes yourself, they’ll make sure each one is signed, sealed, and delivered. shopfete.com.
Ah, to kick back with a strawberry-infused water in the Mandarin’s lounge again. After months of quarantine cooking, cleaning, and homeschooling, the Himalayan-salt-stone massages and hydrating body wraps at this 16,000-square-foot temple to relaxation promise to be even more restorative—especially if they’re in one of three new treatment rooms the hotel is unveiling as part of its multimillion-dollar renovation. 776 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199, mandarinoriental.com/boston.
Sinesia Karol’s playful yet sophisticated bikinis, one-pieces (pictured), and cover-ups were born out of her desire to help buttoned-up New Englanders feel as comfortable and confident in swimwear as the women she knew growing up in her native Brazil. Her eponymous brand’s signature style? Artful prints and unexpected cutouts guaranteed to have you strutting in the sand like it’s your personal runway. sinesiakarol.com.
It’s not easy finding a pair of frames that harmonize with your face just so. But if anyone can do it, it’s father-and-son opticians Bobin and Tariq Nicholson, both of whom studied music in college and now bring their artistic vision to this one-stop shop for glasses, contacts, and eye exams. Whether you prefer your specs colorful and funky or sleek and understated, you’ll find them in the cases here—along with warm, personable service that turns a chore into an outing to look forward to. 2271 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, MA 02124, eyeandeyeoptics.com.
Time and again, this Beacon Hill concept shop delivers on its reputation for stocking the city’s most exciting selection of high-end shoes thanks to founder Lana Barakat, who scours the globe for handmade, unique footwear from around the world. Whether you’re looking for a gravity-defying platform bootie, the perfect metallic fringe sneaker, or an ultra-mod leather sandal, one thing’s for sure: These kicks are designed for some seriously fancy footwork. 51 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114, decemberthieves.com.
Let the beauty influencers have their 24-karat-gold facials—at this cozy spa, hard work and expert technique lead to stunning results. With two decades of experience as an aesthetician, French-born founder Anne-Cécile Curot eschews a one-size-fits-all approach to skin care in favor of treatments tailored to each client’s unique challenges, from hormonal acne to changes caused by chemotherapy treatments. 125 Broad St., Boston, MA levisageboston.com.
Forget the dive-y, fluorescent-lit bowling alleys of yore: Kings has turned the classic pastime upscale. Lounge on a tufted-leather couch, Manhattan in hand, while waiting to bowl on one of 16 glowing lanes. The 20,000-square-foot Seaport hot spot, which debuted in 2017, also features retro arcade games and swanky gastropub fare—including a bourbon-glazed pork-belly BLT so good you might even forget to bowl 60 Seaport Blvd., Boston, MA kings-de.com.
The ICA is on a run that would be the envy of any museum: In the past year alone, it hosted a range of dynamic exhibits, including Pakistani artist Huma Bhabba’s massive and haunting sculptures, and opened the Watershed, a 15,000-square-foot satellite across the harbor in Eastie. And with the high-profile acquisition of one of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s famed Infinity Mirror Rooms, on view beginning this September, it seems the best is yet to come. 25 Harbor Shore Dr. , Boston, MA icaboston.org.
At this sweet slice of heaven on Observatory Hill, apothecary jars of blood-orange caramels gleam beside a case filled with fine bonbons, brown-butter toffee, and craft riffs on candy-bar classics courtesy of Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney. The chocolate makers are known for infusing their handmade, artisanal confections with fancy teas, spices, and fruit purées, resulting in uniquely decadent treats. The one thing they all have in common? An air of whimsy and dedication to sky-high-quality. 145 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA ehchocolatier.com.
Leave the iPad behind to bump along on a hayride or eat honey fresh from a beehive: One visit to Drumlin Farm, and you’ll see why this Lincoln oasis has been a cherished tradition for generations of families. Extensive seasonal programming—from beloved “Woolapalooza” sheep-shearing days to strawberry picking—is the pitch-perfect blend of authentically agrarian and totally accessible. massaudubon.org/drumlinfarm.
Whether you’re into restored cuts of cinema classics or the latest Romanian masterpiece, you can find it at the Brattle, Harvard Square’s beloved one-screen theater. Despite what seems like constant change in the neighborhood, the theater stands as the epicenter of the area’s indie-film ecosystem, offering everything from the sublime to the very strange (see: the venue’s monthly Trash Night, which celebrates the best of the worst straight-to-VHS fare). 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA brattlefilm.org.