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Stepping into Fia Salon/Spa is like stepping into a Mad Max fashion show. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city proper, the owner and namesake has spread her European roots and visionary eye, carving out a landscape that swirls together industrial sensibilities with a steam-punk edge highlighted by gunmetal-gray roses. Yet despite hard accents, the studio space is surprisingly inviting, balancing the chrome and steel with gold and copper and an open layout that gives visitors space to breathe and think. There, perhaps drawing inspiration from the metal spin-lock door or perhaps imagining a vault behind that door filled with toupees, clients dream up fantastic hairstyles that Fia and her staff make into reality.

International training with the likes of Toni & Guy and Vidal Sassoon has helped Fia cultivate a team of skilled master colorists and stylists. To stay swimming in the rushing current of fashion, the team regularly undergoes training on the latest techniques and uses products by Coppola, Sebastian, and Wella to transform looks. Several staffers draw from experience working in salons on Newbury Street and in the greater Boston area, and Boston magazine, which named Fia Salon/Spa the Best in West Boston in 2007, touted the spot's "Newbury Street panache minus the hassle of driving in from the ’burbs." The staffers’ know-how has also earned them recognition on WGBH's Boston A-List, including the award for Best Hair Highlights in 2011. When the team is not tousling hair into the last trend, Fia Salon/Spa's team pamper visages with luxurious skincare treatments aided by Dermalogica products.

15 Cypress St
Newton,
MA
US

No matter what country her family was living in at the time, Longteine “Nyep” De Monteiro—the wife of a Cambodian diplomat—always heard the same thing when she served dinner at one of her lavish parties: “This is so good! You should open a restaurant!” It wasn't until the rise of the Khmer Rouge forced Longteine and her family to relocate to America that she began to seriously entertain the idea. Longteine finally opened The Elephant Walk in 1991, where she filled the menu with a mélange of her favorite Cambodian and French recipes.

Since then, Longteine’s daughter Nasda and her son-in-law Gerard Lopez helped her expand The Elephant Walk to three locations. All three Elephant Walks separate their kitchens into French and Cambodian preparation lines, each staffed with chefs adept at both traditional and contemporary dishes. Each dish makes meticulous use of flavorful, wholesome ingredients such as ripe plum tomatoes, fresh tuna, Vermont goat cheese, and organic tofu. The Elephant Walk also serves up a host of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free variants.

The Elephant Walk loves to feed the mind as much as the mouth. During its regularly scheduled Cafe Science series, Brandeis professors deliver compelling lectures on a variety of topics from the Large Hadron Collider to explaining why science alone cannot turn water into chocolate milk. The restaurant has since given upwards of $200,000 to local, national, and international nonprofit organizations fighting poverty.

900 Beacon Street
Newton,
MA
US

In the early ’70s, Boston-area resident Mike Farny dreamed of creating affordable outdoor recreational activities for his community to enjoy. In May of 1973, Mike set up shop in the MDC Norumbega Police Substation of Newton/Auburndale and began realizing his dream. The location—directly next to the historic Totem Pole Ballroom—perfectly enabled the environmentally friendly practice of canoeing and kayaking. Mike's vision blossomed over the years to include four other locations, each offering rentals, tours, and instruction.

Today, on-staff guides lead tours of the Charles River and Boston Harbor to educate participants in ecosystem conservation, view the skyline and sunset, or explore historic structures. Select trips also include lunch to fuel participants as they navigate difficult waterways and jump through flaming hoops. To prepare customers entering the water for the first time, instructors coach riders of all levels in private or group lessons at the paddling school, which draws on more than 30 years of instructional tradition. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop—where P&H and Boréal kayaks hang alongside Tahoe paddleboards and Wenonah canoes, dreaming of one day being the inspiration for a traditional sea chantey. Crew members help clients choose their ride and accessories from these selections and others through free daily demonstrations.

455 Nahanton St.
Newton,
MA
US

With six distinct courses etched into the New England countryside, Sterling Golf Management promotes pin-hunting recreation for Boston-area golfers of all abilities. The longest and most difficult of the six, The Shattuck Golf Club's 18-hole course kicks off with a 409-yard par 4 where players hack their way toward a green that is visually wreathed by the rising red rocks of Mount Monadnock, setting the tone for a scenic, 6,764-yard round. Groves of trees ensconce the fairways and barter over carbon dioxide at Norwood Country Club's recently renovated course, a relatively flat layout characterized by smallish greens and flanked by a lighted driving range. The newest member to the Sterling Golf Management team is the Rockland course, where 18 par-3 holes wind between tall oaks for a picturesque par-54 round. Designed in 1921 in the Donald Ross tradition is the Maynard Golf Course, a picturesque par 70, 9-hole course with a full-service clubhouse. The same sylvan makeup returns at Newton Commonwealth's course, where lush tree lines cast shadows over a creek as it snakes across the fairways of seven holes. Rounding out the grassy sextet, Chelmsford's nine-hole course takes golfers careening across 2,467 yards of narrow fairways, placing straight drives or skilled golf ball pilots at a premium.

212 Kenrick St
Newton,
MA
US

Lumière's menu features cleanly executed, creative French cuisine crafted from local and sustainable ingredients by world-class chef Michael Leviton. First-course favorites include the Verrill Farm corn fritters ($14) and sea scallops wearing a caramelized coat and accessorized by locally grown beets, orange, ginger, and chervil ($16). Tickle tongue bumps while calming your conscience with a bite of humanely raised, succulent veal loin reclining on a luxurious bed of braised greens, kalamata olives, and tzatziki ($30). Or, catch Skippy's mustard-crusted Chatham bluefish, swimming through monotonous mealtimes with a retinue of Verrill Farm zucchini, buoyant spring onions, potatoes, and salsa verde ($26). A $35 prix fixe menu grants guests two choices for three courses, including the dessert decision between a decadent dark chocolate and peanut butter mousse parfait doused in caramel sauce, Chantilly cream, and candied peanuts, and a lightly sweet watermelon sorbet.

1293 Washington St
West Newton,
MA
US

You might call Paul Jones, managing partner of Elements Laser Spa, a bit of a technology junkie. He worked in the semiconductors industry for years, making equipment for manufacturers in Silicon Valley before deciding to fly solo. He created a company that used lasers to inspect the surface of semiconductor wafers and the insides of sandwich cookies. Jones then collaborated with a group of orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists to found what has become one of the leading rehabilitation clinics in the Austin area.

It's no surprise, then, that his latest endeavor—two hip, welcoming laser spas—have taken home four Best of CitySearch awards: in the laser-hair-removal category in 2009 and 2010, and in the hair-removal category in 2011 and 2013. Jones has chosen medical directors who match his zeal for innovation, namely plastic surgeon Dr. Vishnu Rumalla and Dr. Shirat Ling, an expert in medical aesthetic procedures. The staff of certified technicians uses Venus Freeze to tighten skin and reduce wrinkles, Zerona lasers to noninvasively reduce stubborn fat, and advanced Candela systems to remove hair, spider veins, and sun spots.

575 Boylston Street
Newton Centre,
Massachusetts
US

Newton Scene