We all know the standard china and silver registries backwards and forwards, but at Bliss Home, newlyweds learn to expect the stylishly unexpected. This is where they find not only exquisite Spanish handcrafted rugs and French crystal Champagne glasses, but avant-garde curvilinear bookcases and natural-horn pâté spreaders. Bliss consultants can guide you through the registration process even if you're a flat-, serve-, bar-, dinner-, or stemware novice. And if you think it all looks good here, just wait 'til you see it in your house. 121 Newbury St., Boston, MA blisshome.bridgecatalog.com/.
A cage for your cairn? Quelle horreur! As long as poochie can hold her own on the playground, she can roam with the big boys at Paws. This doggie camp is both day care ($17 per day) and overnight stays ($25 per night); dogs can romp supervised in the half-acre backyard (half paved, half stone). Don't let the modest house fool you: There are 11 rooms decorated with beds and couches where pooches can sleep. Cats are welcome too (in their own rooms, $12 a night). 113 Central Street, Stoneham, MA pawsclub.com/.
A wag-worthy alternative to the city's many well-intentioned but hospital-like kennels, the Urban K9 is based in a Roslindale home that owners Karen Donoghue and Erika Forssberg are happy to share with their four-legged clients. After being dropped off (or fetched by the duo's 'pet taxi' service), Fido is let out on his own schedule, taken to the park for group romps, and tucked into his very own doggy bed at night. For owners who prefer not to board, the Urban K9 will make dog-sitting (or cat-, bird-, fish-, or hamster-sitting) house calls, too. 129 Malden St., Boston, MA 2118, theurbank9.com.
Anatomy of a Winner: Contained on a paper-lined tray (and scattered on the reclaimed wood table) is barbecue bliss, as follows. 1. A variety of house-made hot sauces lets you dress your meat as you please. 2. Fist-size biscuits are sinfully buttery and flaky. 3. Thirst-quenching cocktails come in a mason jar. 4. The crunchy "farm salad" provides welcome relief from the richness of the meat—and from the 5. cheesy, crumb-topped broccoli casserole. 6. The main event, the pork ribs, are smoky and tender. 7. Old-school accoutrements include pickles, shaved white onion, and squishy white bread, all of which balance the heat. 1381 Boylston St., Boston, MA sweetcheeksq.com.
Out in public, and especially out at the city's better restaurants, you want as few people as possible to notice when your princeling starts whacking his silverware together or gleefully tossing sugar packets onto the floor. Luckily, the popular Kenmore Square brasserie has a dining room that's plenty large and noisy enough to absorb such commotion. Order the refined mac and cheese and strawberry shortcake for the little one, and treat yourself to mustard-glazed salmon or house-made cavatelli. The absence of dirty looks will make everything more delicious. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, easternstandardboston.com.
Most of us do very bad things in our cars, what with the speeding and the cussing and whatnot. Some of us also do very bad things to our cars, leaving them to suffer the indignity of coffee-stained dashes and trash-strewn floors. When the situation reaches the Good God, what is that smell? stage, it's time to pay a visit to Dr. Detail. At its three local mall-garage setups (bonus: shop while you wait) and flagship operation in Walpole (bonus: spot a Patriot), this auto aesthetician offers a decent hand-wash and vacuum for 30 bucks. But book a full detail, starting at about $160, and the guys will buff, shampoo, and vacuum away every last vestige of your sins. Consider it an exorcism, with new-car smell. Copley Place, Boston, MA 2116, drdetailcarwash.com.
Why schlep out to pick up locally grown produce when Forage can do the work for you? The farm-to-table restaurant is now partnering with small area growers and producers to offer several options for upgrading your pantry and fridge: multiweek subscription boxes of fresh veggies like local mushrooms and fiddleheads; separate “Goodie Bags,” available à la carte, featuring house-made herb oils, cocktail mixers, and other delights; and weekly orders of unique natural wines. With even delivery available, we wonder: Why wait in supermarket lines ever again? 5 Craigie Cir., Cambridge, MA 02138, foragecambridge.com/.
You could easily drop a few grand on a bespoke model from a name-brand designer. But if you want to save thousands and strut away looking just as dapper, pay a visit to Blank Label. This Boston-based company houses a cadre of knowledgeable tailors who will measure you from head to toe while demystifying the finer points of pick stitching, venting, and canvassing. Within three weeks, Blank Label’s partners in Shanghai will ship off your new favorite outfit. Correction, July 5, 11 a.m.: A previous version of this post misstated the location of Blank Label's international partners. They are in Shanghai, not Hong Kong. We regret the error. 36 Bromfield St., Boston, MA 02108, blanklabel.com.
Dance classes aren't just for kids in pink tights and ballet slippers. A top-notch studio offers a variety of options that can make anyone feel footloose. The Dance Complex does just that by hosting an astonishing array of classes, including the traditional (ballet, jazz, tap), cultural (Afro-Brazilian, flamenco, Kathak), and simply funky (hip-hop, street funk, capoeira). Four floors of studios house the artist-run organization, which boasts teaching talent from some 20 countries. There's a decidedly unpretentious and inclusive atmosphere in the affordable, drop-in classes—a relief when you're getting up the courage to try Irish dance. 536 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA dancecomplex.org/.
If you want blinking neon welcome signs, uninspiring neutral furnishings, and tasteless room service in an anonymous structure, don't come here. The four-star Eliot is an intimate and cozy home away from home (we should all live so well) with a decidedly European flair. Its beautifully furnished one- and two-bedroom suites, featuring living rooms and private pantries, are the perfect respire following a day exploring the Back Bay or simply as an urban retreat with your honey. And right downstairs is the nationally acclaimed restaurant Clio. 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
Forget what you think you know about steak houses. The Oak Room, this year's dark horse candidate, puts the usual contenders to shame. Vaulted plaster ceilings and meticulously carved oak walls to form a regal setting, the capable waiters assist you with old-school formality but not a touch of stuffiness. The steaks are perfect— well marbled, cooked exactly to order, served with your choice of bearnaise sauce or a red wine glaze. For the less carnivorous, there's always the spectacular lobster bouillabaisse. The wine list is interesting and accessible to spenders big and small. 138 St. James Ave., Boston, MA .
Put one foot in this tapas bar and (as its name foretells) suddenly you've stepped inside a surrealist painting. The walls bombard the senses, covered as they are with trinkets, tchotchkes, knick-knacks, and accouterments from all over the Iberian peninsula. The food follows suit, starting with the tapas menu, which offers a palette of wildly disparate tastes in a few small bites, from juicy duckling smothered in berry sauce to delicate scallops swimming in saffron cream. But the entrées are the genuine masterpieces—especially the house special, melt-on-your-fork pescado a la sal (striped bass cooked in coarse salt that tenderizes the fish as it's baked). 415 Washington St., Somerville, MA dalirestaurant.com/.
The white sand goes on forever—or at least for four-and-a-half miles. This North Shore strip has the dunes, the best-blended concession stands, the most peaceful ambience—all in a preserved marshland setting that makes the parking fee ($9 to $15—half price after 3 p.m. every day) worth it. Besides, proceeds go to the Trustees of Reservations to protect historic homes in the area. If the greenheads are getting nippy, as they can in August, head uphill and tour the grounds of the historic Crane estate, and make a pit stop for fried clams at Woodman's around the corner. Argilla Rd., Ipswich, MA .
Here's a masseuse who can diagnose your lifestyle ills just by feeling your muscles. A keyboard jockey? She can tell from those ropy tangles in your forearm. Carry a heavy bag on your left? Those crooked shoulders are a dead giveaway. Cooper works to remedy the physical damage of modern living, and gives advice on how to cure bad habits that take their toll on your body. And it feels good, too. Le Pli, 5 Bennett Street, Cambridge, MA .
Most of us do very bad things in our cars, what with the speeding and the cussing and whatnot. Some of us also do very bad things to our cars, leaving them to suffer the indignity of coffee-stained dashes and trash-strewn floors. When the situation reaches the Good God, what is that smell? stage, it's time to pay a visit to Dr. Detail. At its three local mall-garage setups (bonus: shop while you wait) and flagship operation in Walpole (bonus: spot a Patriot), this auto aesthetician offers a decent hand-wash and vacuum for 30 bucks. But book a full detail, starting at about $160, and the guys will buff, shampoo, and vacuum away every last vestige of your sins. Consider it an exorcism, with new-car smell. Copley Place, Boston, MA 2116, .