Peek inside the musty underground caves where Formaggio’s young fromage is ripened (they’ll give you a tour if you ask nicely), and you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the Comtés and clothbound sharp cheddars you pair with your pinot noir and artisanal crackers. Once you’re back above ground, ask one of the store’s expert cheesemongers to recommend a wedge from their impressive selection, and grab a bottle of vino and a few gourmet accoutrements on the way out. 244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 2138, formaggiokitchen.com.
Shopping with kids in tow is a Sisyphean task, especially when one’s bored and another is wreaking havoc with a purple juice pack. Enter Milton boutique the Nutshell. While Mom browses the racks of staples from Tea and Joules and formalwear from Emile et Rose and Hartstrings, Junior can peruse the trinkets on display at the adjoining Toy Chest. It’s an arrangement that parentsand their little, ahem, angelscan get behind. 10 Bassett St., Milton, MA 2186, thenutshellmilton.com.
When it comes to guiding you through the bewildering array of diaper bags, baby carriers, and car seats out there, none of the other tot emporiums in town compares to Magic Beans. Exhibit A: the store's carriage questionnaire, which gets reviewed by one of Magic Beans' "stroller experts." From there, they can help you match the correct model to your needs—and for anxious new parents, that kind of coddling is always welcome. 312 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2446, mbeans.com.
Set back from the hubbub of downtown Edgartown, this eco-friendly, 17-room manse is quiet, unpretentious, and posh. (JFK himself once stayed here after an exhausting regatta.) Eat your made-to-order breakfast, then ride one of the cruiser bikes to the beach or to the island's farm institute to gather fresh eggs. And after that? Just linger in the Garden Room till it's time for cookies and tea. 128 Main St., Edgartown, MA 2539, hobknob.com.
Forgive this book shop for its bizarre name and oddball location. Once you get past the tiny storefront, the Mobile Book Fair stretches through a parking lot and nearly to the horizon: rows upon aisles upon alleys of books. It's as if the Internet put its entire inventory in one place. And the goods here are priced almost as competitively as what you'll find online. 82-84 Needham St., Newton Highlands, MA 2461, nebookfair.com.
Once we were commitment-shy (dare we say promiscuous?) when it came to hair colorists—one specialist after another, never settling down. Then we met Lyle, and it was love at first highlight. While especially skillful at brightening blondes, he's made our brunette, redhead, and raven-haired pals happy, too. And despite his fancy address, Lyle's chairside manner is appropriately meticulous, never fussy. Emerge Spa & Salon, 275 Newbury St., Boston, MA emergespasalon.com.
On its third floor, Emerge has a men-only area where male patrons can get a classic barber's haircut and shave, massage, or mani-pedi in unblushing privacy. We were just as at ease in the coed salon one level below, where Henry Canas wields his scissors and clippers with the sure-handedness expected on Newbury Street, and none of the hauteur. 275 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, emergespasalon.com.
Forget the Ducks. The cultural, historic, and aesthetic richness of this city is in safer hands with the likes of Ed Gordon. He's an architectural buff who likes showing off undiscovered neighborhoods and his tours are heavy on anecdotes about how real people lived "back then," but he also points out the best shopping and nightlife. During one of his 1938 hours of the Combat Zone, Gordon was punched in the stomach by a stranger on the street. He got up, dusted himself off, and continued talking.
Island living might seem easy, but it sure ain't fair. Hear us out: Stroll past the Juice Bar and the aroma of homebaked waffle cones comes wafting out. Inside, the list of rotating flavors like cherry chocolate chunk and peanut butter cup proves irresistible; after just one taste, eating (and eating, and eating) ice cream becomes inevitable. Our bikinis are getting tighter just thinking about it. 12 Broad St., Nantucket, MA 2554, .
Bird's scoring 60 points the week after McHale scored 56.
Owner Paul Niski scours the globe for handmade jewelry that's as beautifully crafted as it is just plain beautiful. Exotic leathers, carved bone, hammered metals, and precious stones unite to create one-of-a-kind pieces that turn the human form into a backdrop for exquisite design. 133 Charles St., Boston, MA 2114, shopatgood.com.
Dressed up with rich linings, ribbons, and custom monograms, owner Lynne Johnson's smart pocketfold designs are at once substantially complex and stylishly organized. She's also an expert calligrapher, which makes her Back Bay studio a true one-stop shop. 213 Newbury St., Boston, MA invitingcompany.com.
It was either him or the whole team. MA