date published: November 6, 2006

An Art-umnal Scene
By November, the vibrant hues of the October foliage have begun to fade to brown. But don’t fret if you’ve missed the peak of the foliage season, because there are plenty of gorgeous colors to be found at numerous open studios showcasing Boston’s burgeoning art communities.

Start with a visit to the Allston Arts District 20th Annual Open Studios on November 11 & 12. This artists’ collaborative, situated in a neighborhood with deep artistic roots, displays the works of more than 35 featured artists, including the architecturally-inspired works of Jill Weber, the typographic designs of Firefly Press and Fran Gadino’s digital photography.

Another must-see for art lovers is Fenway Studios’ Holiday Open Studios on November 18 & 19. This National Historic Landmark showcases artists working in a variety of styles from expressionism to realism. Art enthusiasts can take a visual history lesson from Peter Williams’ New England maritime historical print series, be amazed at the vibrant detail of Loretta Cuda’s egg tempura creations and much more. Refer to listings.

Curtains Up
After the traditional summer drought, Boston’s Theatre District starts humming again in autumn, so there’s no better time to get lost in a dramatic (or musical or comedic) evening of theater in one of the Hub’s stunning vintage theaters. A revival of the classic courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men-—starring Richard Thomas (“The Waltons”) and George Wendt (“Cheers”)—runs November 7–19 at The Colonial Theatre. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee brings its quirky and comical Tony Award-winning songs and soul to the Wilbur Theatre in its Boston premiere. The whole family will enjoy Louis Sachar’s award-winning Holes as it jumps from the page to the stage, through the end of November at Wheelock Family Theatre. Show your Southie pride and support Huntington Theatre Company’s production of South Boston playwright David Lindsay-Abaire’s critically acclaimed drama Rabbit Hole. And fans of big singers and even bigger bouffant hairdos will find it worth the trip north to check out North Shore Music Theatre’s musical production of the Broadway smash hit Hairspray, running through November 19. Refer to listings.

Arlo & Alice
Thanksgiving in America is a time of many traditions—pumpkin pie, parades and football, just to name a few. In these parts, though, it isn’t really Turkey Day until you’ve heard “Alice’s Restaurant.”

On November 15, socially conscious singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie makes his annual pilgrimage to the Hub, bringing his extensive catalogue of American folk to the Somerville Theater. The centerpiece of any Arlo show this time of year is “Alice’s Restaurant,” where Guthrie takes audiences on a hilarious journey that began with an incident of littering on Thanksgiving Day in Western Massachusetts, and became a statement about the politics of the American government during the Vietnam War. Originally released in 1967, this song (which is really more of a story that can run up to an hour in concert!) was a musical example of the commitment to social activism that defined the 60’s generation. With the comparison between the turbulent Sixties and today growing more prevalent, maybe this year a visit to “Alice’s Restaurant” is just what we all need. Refer to listing.

Ice, Ice, Baby
You don’t have to be the next Michelle Kwan to love ice-skating. Starting November 15, glide over to Boston Common’s Frog Pond to take a spin on the ice in America’s oldest public park. This popular spot is flooded daily with families, couples and anyone else wishing for the opportunity to be part of their own personal Currier and Ives scene. And since the brutal winter cold hasn’t set in, now is a great opportunity to lace up your skates for an evening turn under the stars (until 10 p.m. on weekends). Be sure to warm up afterwards by sipping hot cocoa at the Pond Cottage. Whether you’re practicing your triple lutz or simply trying to stay on your feet, the Frog Pond proves that fun is best served frozen! Refer to listing.

The Tastes of Fall
With the changing of the leaves comes the changing of the menus at local restaurants. As the crisp smell of autumn fills the air, many of Boston’s best eateries are introducing new menu items inspired by the harvest season.

Sonsie (refer to listing) will tantalize your taste buds with their seasonal ode to apples. Start off with hot butternut squash soup with maple baked apples, cornmeal batter fried shrimp with pink apple coleslaw, or cider braised beef with soft cooked apples. Or try the ricotta-stuffed gnocchi with autumn squash cream and toasted walnuts for a main dish that will leave you pleasantly full.

Follow your nose to the sweet aromas of 33 Restaurant (refer to listing) to experience their new fall menu, which includes poached shrimp dumplings and the Mediterranean bass with basil-cured tomatoes and leek-artichoke confit.

You’ll fall for Cottonwood Restaurant and Cafés (refer to listing) grilled pork tenderloin with cinnamon ginger applesauce, braised red cabbage and roasted red bliss potatoes. Or, on a chilly late autumn night, warm up with the butternut squash mezzaluna pasta at Rustic Kitchen (refer to listing).

Let the Games Begin
The lights over at Fenway Park may be dark, but the rest of Boston’s celebrated sports teams are just starting to heat things up this month. With our beloved Boston Bruins’ off-season additions of defenseman Zdeno Chara and rookie center Phil Kessel, this season promises to be an exciting one for hockey fans. Watch the team hit the ice at TD Banknorth Garden November 9 & 16 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and November 11 against the Ottawa Senators. And if you’re more about the slam dunk than the slap shot, the Garden is also home to one of basketball’s most storied franchises—the green gladiators themselves, the Boston Celtics. Veterans Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak lead the young Celts against the Orlando Magic (November 13) and Indiana Pacers (November 15) this month. And outside the city but close to the hearts of Boston sports fans, the New England Patriots are lining up for a win against the New York Jets when these storied rivals meet on the gridiron November 11 at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium. Refer to listings.

Making a List, Checking it Twice
They say to give is better than to receive, but not when the giving requires waiting in department store lines that stretch all the way to the North Pole. This year, beat the December rush with early holiday shopping at some of Boston’s top retail districts.

Shopping on Newbury Street, Back Bay’s trendy destination for stylish boutique merchandise, doesn’t have to result in maxed out credit cards. This Mecca for designer fashions and expensive tastes also offers less pricey but equally stylish shops for all your gift list needs. Stop by H&M (refer to listing) to snag some good deals on up-to-date fashions and while you’re there, don’t forget to peruse their accessories department for stocking stuffers galore. Borders Books and Music, H&M’s new neighbor opening mid-month, is a great one-shop stop for books, magazines, music and movies.

For the kids and kids at heart on your list, Harvard Square’s unique game and toy shops are a must. For odds, ends and thingamajigs, check out Black Ink (5 Brattle St., 617-497-1221) and their creative selection of housewares, personal goods and toys. For books and games that are both educational and entertaining, visit Curious George Goes to Wordsworth (1 JFK St., 617-498-0062) and The Games People Play (1100 Mass. Ave., 617-492-0711).

And if you’re a mall rat at heart or just want to beat the autumn chill, the Shops at Prudential Center (refer to listing) boasts over 75 shops, restaurants, kiosks and specialty stores. Or if you’re sticking to the other side of the river, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone on your list at the array of over 120 shops at CambridgeSide Galleria (refer to listing).

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