Bowling is enjoying an indubitable renaissance as of late, with funky alleys attracting a quasi-hipster bar crowd. But as much as we enjoy our fancy drinks, bowling is at heart a sport of beer in plastic cups and no-glam atmosphere. Lanes & Games in Cambridge has never had an identity crisis about what it is: a legitimately retro bowling alley (note the circa-1947 interior) with 54 lanes of candlepin and tenpin, a pro shop, and lots of leagues. From the "Grip it and Rip It" stickers to the bowling bag-sized lockers in the restrooms, this is the real deal. 195 Concord Tpke. (Rte. 2 East), Cambridge, MA lanesgames.com/.
The idea of handcrafts is intriguing; the reality, often ho-hum. Folklorica, however, hones its edge with one-of-a-kind creations by big names (Alexis Bittar, Jane Diaz) and sharp local talent. 61 Union St., Newton Centre, Newton, MA 2459, .
Dogs and cats were not meant to live on kibble alone, so thank our lucky paws there’s Polkadog. Unlike the endlessly bland aisles you’ll find at big-box pet-food stores, this homegrown success stocks its shelves with unexpected products, from “Clam Chowda” treats to New England-farmed meat jerky, made daily at its South Boston kitchen. And thanks to the locally sourced ingredients, you don’t have to let Fido’s diet go to the dogs. 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 02118, polkadog.com.
Long one of our favorite Boston standups, this mother of two and tireless advocate for inclusion of children with special needs is a unique combination of high-alert neurosis and deadpan, low-key delivery. Since March 25, she’s been hosting her “Artisanal Comedy” show live on Instagram every Wednesday at 9 p.m., and her hilarious observations about the pandemic have kept us in stitches, even while we assiduously try to avoid the emergency room. MA bethanyvandelft.com.
Where else in town can you score cult faves from hard-to-find lines such as Augustinus Bader, Supergoop!, and Lilah B., not to mention free facials, makeup consultations, and basically all things trending in beauty? It’s Neiman all the way. The department store’s curated high-end cosmetics selection, as well as tools and accessories, can always be found online, but we’re looking forward to making our way through the Copley Place outpost’s recently redesigned beauty department ASAP. Copley Place, Boston, MA 02116, neimanmarcus.com.
Who captures the spirit of the city of champions in this era of prosperity and decadent joy better than Rob Gronkowski? The man who brings raucous mischief wherever he goes, who both wins and dents championship trophies, and whom everyone loves both in spite of and because of his flaws, Gronk may be retiring from the Patriots, but he’s still number one in our hearts.
All too often, long-haired gals find themselves at the mercy of scissors-happy stylists with their own agenda. Not at this new South End salon. Owner Sam Kane approaches each cut as if it’s art in the making, shaping her canvas by listening carefully and never passing judgment. Case in point: She declined to scold us for waiting 10 months between cuts—and left our revitalized locks at just the right length. 61 Berkeley St., Boston, MA blackroomsalon.com.
Made from premium hormone- and antibiotic-free milk, the generous scoops at 50-plus-year-old Crescent Ridge are as thick and luscious as ever. And now that the Sharon-based ice cream maker has an operation in Boston Public Market, we can get our fix of cake batter, orange-pineapple, and salted-caramel chocolate-pretzel without leaving the city. 100 Hanover St., Boston, MA crescentridgedairybar.com.
Despite our devotion to Kindles and iPads, it takes just two minutes at Brookline Booksmith for us to fall in love with the printed word all over again: the scuffed hardwood floors, worn from decades of use; the steady, friendly conversation at the register; the lulling background jazz; and, of course, the bookshelves, chock full of fiction and non-, paperbacks and hardcovers, the very old and the novel new. 279 Harvard St., Brookline, MA brooklinebooksmith.com.
Louis has long clothed our city's who's who in sometimes elegant, sometimes edgy apparel—Balenciaga and Zac Posen, Project Alabama and Proenza Schouler. Plus, the überchic staff isn't übersnooty, offering honest opinions without leaving you feeling obligated to buy. That's something even the most sophisticated shopper can appreciate. 60 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 2110, louisboston.com.
Shelves and shelves of everything from Wiffle balls to free weights to tennis racquets to jogging gear to golf tees fill the seven locations of our sports authority. Last time we stopped in, no fewer than three salespeople offered assistance before leaving us to browse undisturbed, which was just fine: Thanks to the huge orange overhead signs that point the way to the various kinds of equipment on offer, it's always easy to find whatever gear you're shopping for and get on with some real exercise. 480 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, citysports.com.
There are certain advantages to Boston's lingering Anglophilia. Aquascutum is one of them. The sole American outpost of the venerable British chain carries trim tailored suits, broad-collared dress shirts, and vibrantly hued ties, as well as the clothier's signature line of elegant raincoats. The slickers are debonair enough to fit into even the dandiest wardrobe—and utterly inspirational here in our puddle-prone city. 450 Boylston St., Boston, MA aquascutum.co.uk/.
Truth be told, the magazine racks at the downtown Borders offer as wide a selection as the homegrown newsstands in Harvard and Copley squares. But browsing for magazines and newspapers at chain stores strikes us as a little, well, square. Our winner, then, is Out of Town News, where the choice of reading material is a bit larger than that of the Copley Square stand and where the willingness to take credit cards makes impulse buys (and what else are newsstand sales after all?) that much easier. Zero Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA .
We've visited those trendy blowout bars, but found that pointing to a menu to order a hairstyle—not to mention being swiftly herded from sink to chair and out the door again—feels wildly impersonal. Which is why we love this posh Newbury Street salon, where we're coddled with coffee and tea and a deeply relaxing cranial massage. Most important, we saunter out with perfect tresses fluffed and preened to suit our hair type and face shape. 77 Newbury St., Boston, MA bradleyanddiegel.com.
We're so over marathon trips to techno-salon palaces where we're given just enough attention to warrant an overpriced coloring. Which is why we now place our flaxen tresses squarely in Megan Graham's hands. She sees the nuances in blondes (we're so easy to stereotype), painting in high- and lowlights that hint at her former life as an artist. 115 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, meghangrahambeauty.com.