Boston is (as a running city should be) chock full of running shops. But none provides the level of personal attention offered at Marathon Sports, where the staff is rigorously trained to labor over every sale. Salespeople here will consider your budget, your running level, and—above all—your foot structure and stride (test runs included) before weeding out your ideal buy from the store's epic stock. 1654 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA marathonsports.com/.
With the real estate market showing few signs of slowing, the only way to find your dream home is to have a great broker by your side. Ellen Brockman specializes in Cambridge real estate—she knows every property, every building, every transaction that occurs. For buyers, she's a quick study on your likes and dislikes, and her instincts are dead-on when it comes time to make an offer. For sellers, she offers tried-and-true advice for showing your home at its best and getting the right potential buyers in the door. 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA .
Whether you need your ferret cuddled or your cat walked, DoggieDay's caretakers are up to the challenge. You can trust them to watch and feed your pet while you're at work or on an extended vacation, or to make sure Fluffy gets his cardio—and your plants get watered—whenever you don't have time to take him out yourself. 400 Tremont St., Boston, MA doggieday.com.
A blend of Eastern European sternness and a baby-soft touch makes Violet Mkhitaryan's all-natural facials the most welcome punishment your skin will ever endure. A biochemist turned aesthetician, Mkhitaryan mixes, then applies, a masque of organic herbs, oils, and floral extracts to your face after cleansing your pores and before massaging your neck and shoulders. That's some tough love we can get behind. 257 Newbury St., Boston, MA violetskinboutique.com/.
Next time you need a hard-to-find imported baking pan, follow your inner Escoffier to Kitchen Arts. From culinary esoterica (a one-inch funnel or a rolling mincer) to basics (need your knives sharpened?), these kitchen wizards have it all, including five lines of high-performance cookware. There are good old American brands alongside fancy European makes, and no fewer than 20 types of coffeemakers (stovetop percolators, French presses, and filter drips). Don't worry if your cooking skills extend little beyond boiling water. The employees know of what they speak and want you to enjoy the time you spend in your kitchen. 161 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
New from New York, the McEvoy line offers hip, practical palettes for lips, eyes, and cheeks, and even has a zippered filofax-style case that you can fill with customized inserts (for all those important little daily appointments to powder your nose). The trained crew at Neiman's invites you to try before you buy. Educating rather than arm-twisting, patiently demonstrating special techniques like "push and wiggle" so you can line your lids like the pros—even after you get home—they do one side of your face, then it's your turn. Neiman Marcus, 5 Copley Place, Boston, MA .
There are gyms, and then there are sports clubs. Mike's Gym II is unmistakably in the former club. And it's for neither the soft-hearted nor the soft-bodied; with seven rooms of equipment, no flab escapes this place alive. Weights and equipment are situated according to muscle group, so you don't have to hike to complete your workout, and there are plenty of aerobics classes and cardiovascular equipment to get your heart pumping. And if yours happens to be a softer heart, well, take note: Clients come to this South End spot to lift, and they look like it—shiny with sweat and muscled to the max. If you're easily intimidated, don't come looking for a boost to your self-esteem. 560 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA .
Pass through the frosted glass door to the spa area of Giuliano's and experience the ultimate in feminine luxury. The aestheticians bustling about this girly-girls' playhouse are absolute pros, and their facials leave your face as smooth as silk. Everyone who touches your skin is required to take an intensive training course in Phytobiodermie, a product line based on Chinese philosophy of the five elements. The philosophy deals with both inner and outer beauty; for example, an aromatherapy facial pinpoints which natural element you are (based on your birthdate) and then uses different herbal extracts specific to your skin type. 338 Newbury Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA .
Kristen Repa has seen (and made) a lot of wedding cakes: Before launching her own bakery more than a decade ago, she honed her sweet skills at local institutions like Konditor Meister and the Catered Affair, and even trained at the renowned Konditorei Gerstner, in Austria. Whether you want your cake to match your theme, your personality, or your gorgeous gown, Repa and her team of pastry chefs will turn out an exquisite confection that tastes as good as it looks (dulce de leche or lemonsummer berry, anyone?). 302 Providence Hwy., Westwood, MA 2090, dessertworks.net.
When Peter Ungár’s 20-seat Somerville restaurant temporarily shuttered back in March, he knew transitioning to ordinary takeout service couldn’t possibly re-create his restaurant’s expo-kitchen intimacy. So instead he launched [email protected], a unique, interactive alternative. Over two hours, the chef remotely guides online “guests” through assembling multicourse meals using the provided components. By the time you’ve put the finishing touches on the King crab risotto and almond cake with seaweed caramel, you’ll agree: This is officially the coolest online dinner party around. 14 Tyler St., Somerville, MA 02143, tastingcounter.com.
When you book an hour here, it's wise to leave room for two. Owner Deb Larson has designed her fetching new seaside spa as a kind of anti-errand, flush with incentives to loiter. The glassed-in lounge and balcony spread a sparkling Scituate Harbor at guests' (comfortably propped-up) feet; down the hall are a rainforest shower and a steam room for gratis luxuriating. Factor in the anti-big-city prices for the marine-inspired wraps, massages, and facials, and it's not just hard to leave SpaScape—it's also darn near impossible to not keep coming back. 3 Mill Wharf Plz., Scituate, MA 2066, spascapedayspa.com.
Nestled in East Boston's Day Square, Uncle Pete's is the kind of barbecue place locals keep to themselves. And, really, we'd never have suspected that this lopsided setting, a former Dairy Queen, could produce the most mouthwatering flavor-packed pork, beef, chicken, and ribs we've gnawed this far north. Pete himself makes everything daily, using special combinations of dry rubs and marinades and smoking the meat for five hours or more with a result so succulent that extra sauce and garnishes are superfluous. Equally noteworthy is the care taken here with side dishes, including frosted sweet-potato biscuits, homemade baked beans, and hand-cut fries. 309 Bennington St., East Boston, MA .
On any given night you'll find some of the city's top chefs here after work with chopsticks waving. The eight water tanks filled with live seafood make fish and shellfish obvious choices. Crispy calamari with jalapeño peppers go down like popcorn. And whole fish in a sweet and spicy sauce may cause you to look left, then right, then lick the plate if no one's looking. They're all stellar examples of fresh and delicious Hong Kong-style cuisine, but the kitchen also soars with pork chops, garlic-laden fresh pea tendrils, and eggplant. Added bonus: Jumbo stays open into the wee hours of the morning. 5 Hudson St., Boston, MA jumboseafoodrestaurant.net/.
Bring your tired coffeemakers, your weary blenders, and just about any other small appliance; this repair shop will make them work like new at prices that will probably leave you with enough change in your pocket to pick up one of their factory seconds. 271 Moody St., Waltham, MA .
Considering the onslaught of just-opened and recently renovated hotels, it's a good time to be a guest in Boston (if a somewhat less good time to be a hotelier). How to stand out among the expected 300-thread-count sheets, Frette robes, designer bath products, and 24-hour room service? The glossy waterfront InterContinental outshines the competition (literally—its wavelike structure is swathed in reflective glass) with all of the above, plus a spa, a gym, three novelty restaurants, and one of the biggest ballrooms in town. The quick, courteous employees are a business traveler's dream; the mini esplanade along nearby Fort Point Channel, a stroller's delight. 510 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA intercontinentalboston.com.