What once was a 1920s speakeasy now hosts a pleasure that’s practically as forbidden as Prohibition-era booze: the cigar. This cozy subterranean bar is one of the city’s last refuges for the epicurean whose idea of the perfect nightcap is a 30-year tawny paired with a well-aged Macanudo. 292 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113, stanzadeisigari.com.
Basic blooms may get the job done, but why stop there? Order one of owner Barbara Popolow's spectacular bouquets — a cluster of tulips and hyacinths, perhaps? — then add in little extras, like Chapon chocolates from France, to be delivered with the stems. 454 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA 2474, derby-farm-flowers.com.
White peaches, Allegro coffee, Nicoise olives, English Stilton, and Iggy's breads now reign where once a scuzzy Stop & Shop stood. And for city dwellers, the one hour of free parking with a $5 purchase makes this the best shopping destination around. 15 Westland Ave., Boston, MA .
What was once a stuffy North Shore institution has become a must-visit attraction. From a comprehensive look at Joseph Cornell to the unveiling of one of the greatest private collections of 17th-century Dutch art, the shows under chief curator Lynda Hartigan's direction have solidly positioned the PEM on the world stage. East India Square, Salem, MA pem.org.
Once in a blue moon, a regional theater becomes a Broadway darling. That time is now for the Barrington Stage Company, whose 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee scored not one but two Tony Awards this year, including best actor for the company's own Dan Fogler. Consolati Performing Arts Center, 491 Berkshire School Rd., Sheffield, MA barringtonstageco.org/.
It holds its own Punk Day. MA
They'll set you up a stereo in your home so that you can test it out in real listening conditions. 8 Eliot St., Cambridge, MA .
Italian fashions for the home, including zany light fixtures and other accessories that give high tech an all-new look. The Mall at Chestnut Hill, .
The antimagic magicians. They get rid of the hoke and keep the wonder. By far, the best show in Boston last year.
Bird's. Or McHale's.Or Parish's. Or Carr's. Or . . .
Sheldon Cohen makes the world feel at home. Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA .