Here's a tavern in the truest—and best—sense of the world: a homey magnet for folks from many walks of life, with good comfort food and plenty of drink. The Washington Square hits all the right marks on all the scales: high on quality and atmosphere, but low on pretense. Hang at the long wooden bar or the communal tables to chat with everyone from pierced college kids to nuclear families, or slide into one of the dark corner booths with your better half for a dinner for two. 714 Washington St., Washington Square, Brookline, MA washingtonsquaretavern.com/.
At this spacious, boisterous Kenmore Square brasserie, groups can reserve a round table, slide into a cushy leather booth, or pull together a few tall tables at the bar to enjoy a casual feast. Brisk service, a well-stocked raw bar, and a varied menu filled with small plates that range from salt cod fritters to fried calamari makes for easy sharing—whether you're with simpatico diners or fussy friends who don't share your enlightened palate. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, easternstandardboston.com.
Just as fashionistas favor couture over ready-to-wear, design aficionados prefer unique interior to chain-store décor. That's why those in the know turn to Frank Roop. Roop works with combinations of vintage treasures, elegant fabrics, his own custom furniture creations, and one-of-a-kind pieces collected during his frequent world travels. They all come together into living spaces that are very soothing, vibrant, and sophisticated. 129 Newbury St., Boston, MA frankroop.com/.
Some suburban day spas, catering as they often do to busy moms, have entirely missed the point of an escape: A noisy cut and blow-dry during a massage is not relaxing. But the Lexington outpost of Bella Santé gets the pampering thing down perfectly with imported teas, soothing music, and peaceful treatment rooms. And, of course, one-at-a-time services that are stress free. 76 Bedford St., Lexington, MA bellasante.com/.
Blue proves that the term suburban cool need not be an oxymoron. The space's beautiful and sleek trimmings hint at the industrial, but still manage to welcome and soothe. That balance is echoed by the employees, all of whom share a worldly knowledge of cutting and coloring but maintain a small-town, down-to-earth friendliness. Owner Paula Donovan works meticulous miracles with color, from rich, sultry reds to subtle, finely blended blonds. 10 Muzzey St., Lexington, MA blueacompletehairsalon.com/.
If the soothing Aveda products and complimentary herbal tea aren’t enough to invoke tranquility, the lengthy shampooing and blissful scalp massage certainly will. This South Shore salon has been in the Zona family for generations, so whether you’re looking for a quick trim or a complete hair overhaul, you can rest assured that your locks will be in seasoned hands. 65 South St., Hingham; and other locations, zonaprofessional.com.
At the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than strapping on a pair of gloves and hitting something. Hard. You can do that—and any other workout tangentially related to boxing—at EverybodyFights. Build your strength with circuit training and punching bags, work on your technique with competitive pro and amateur boxers, and soothe muscles inside the locker room’s rain showers when the gloves come off. Multiple locations. 15 Channel Center, Boston, MA 02110, everybodyfights.com.
Yes, it’s nestled within the tourist mecca of Mashpee Commons. No matter: Once you step into Trevi, you might as well be on a European vacation with your secret paramour. There’s an expansive covered terrace overlooking a soothing backlit fountain, a vast menu of global wines, and a list of generously poured cocktails (the Trevi Tini is our favorite). 25 Market St., Mashpee, MA 02649, trevicafe.com.
Soothing shades in gray and blue (of course) set the tone at this cool-but-comfortable salon. And color here is indeed the key: Owner Paula Donovan and her diligently trained staff blend cutting-edge systems (Bumble & Bumble is the mainstay) with down-to-earth reality checks. (Few in Lexington want magenta hair, no matter how great it looked in W.) The result is always glamorous—but tasteful—tresses. 10 Muzzey St., Lexington, MA blueacompletehairsalon.com/.
It doesn't get much stupider than this— or more absorbing. Club into the booth and fire at the lizardy dino-creatures from the movie. Coolest moment: When T-Rex emerges out of the dewy fog, plucks you out of the Land Rover in its teeth, and shakes the bejesus out of your animated persona. Messiest moment: When the herbivores smother you in steamy feces. Jillian's, 145 Ipswich St., Boston, MA .
You can't get much more physical than this intramural league that takes over Jamaica Plain's English High field each fall. In the four years of its existence, the league has grown to include more than 150 women in two divisions (including some fierce straight girls), and been responsible for not a few off-the-field passes. Make no mistake, these girls come to score, and the bruises they get are real. But the tradition of post-game brews at Doyle's goes a long way toward soothing the pain. E-mail [email protected] for more information, MA .
Brow shaping may seem like a skill you can pick up from the average beauty mag. Alas—overplucked arches as our witness—it's not. The pros at LuxLash advise clients on the style that will most flatter their face, and then use wax, tweezers, and even hair extensions to create it. Thanks to cushy furnishings and Billie Holiday warbling in the background, the experience is surprisingly relaxing. Even more soothing is knowing you'll never have to endure growing out a do-it-yourself disaster again. 232 Newbury St., Boston, MA luxlash.com.
Many day spas promise an escape from city life, but none delivers like Exhale. The two-story, Zen-like space alone is enough to set stress on standby, what with its hushed hallways and dimly lit treatment rooms. Choose from a full-service spa menu (we like the four-hand harmony massage), take a yoga or core fusion class, and let the courteous staff soothe and smooth your worries away. 28 Arlington St., Boston, MA exhalespa.com/.
When your fast-track life has you ragged at the edges, check into Giuliano's for some serious self-indulgence. They'll paint your toes, trim your locks, lather your face with soothing muds, and massage your weary back with fragrant oils (by candlelight!). You'll emerge ready to do battle again—or, better yet, go out on the town. 338 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Massages have a practical application, of course: to offer relief for the aches and pains brought on by too many hours logged at the gym (okay, in a desk chair). But in the short term, all we really want is complete relaxation—and that's exactly what we get at Bella Sante. Our therapist's muscle work soothed our stiff lower back, and after slipping back into a plush robe post-treatment, we floated right out the door, ready to face the world again. 38 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, bellasante.com.