Creative Ice Cold Thirst Quenching Drink Ideas For Your Summer Holiday Celebrations

Here are a few creative, ice cold, non-alcoholic, thirst-quenching drink ideas that may be just right for your 4th of July celebration as well as Labor Day or Memorial Day get-together and gatherings  — ideal for your backyard Bar-B-Q, campground, party or picnic….. and a perfect way for everyone (of all ages) in your group to cool-off and quench their thirst from those extreme summertime temperatures.

Here’s A Toast To You and Yours!!

Bottoms Up and ENJOY!!

PATRIOTIC FIZZ

With a steady hand and some colorful drinks, you can create a tasty, multi-layered concoction. The secret is in selecting liquids with varying amounts of sugar, since those that contain more (such as soda) are denser than those with less (such as diet drinks). And that makes it possible to actually stack one on top of another (for a little while, anyway — then they’ll start to blend). Here’s how to serve up a thirst quencher with two, three, or even more layers. Our recipe is for a red, white, and blue version for your Fourth of July celebrations. See how your favorite beverages literally stack up!

Ingredients:

  • Ice cubes
  • Cranberry juice
  • Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce
  • Diet 7-Up

Instructions:

  • Fill a clear glass with ice cubes. Pour the drink with the most sugar (check the nutrition label) into the glass. For our red, white, and blue recipe, start with the cranberry juice.
  • Very slowly add a beverage that contains less sugar — in this case, Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce. Be careful to pour it onto an ice cube — not directly into the other drink — to keep them from mixing.
  • Use the same technique to add a layer of Diet 7-Up.

Sparkling Star Punch

This brightly colored party punch can be dressed up with an optional wreath of frozen berries and (for those who like its distinctive licorice flavor) bits of floating star anise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 64-ounce bottle cold cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 24-ounce bottle cold sparkling cider
  • 1 liter cold ginger ale
  • 1 orange, washed
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen strawberries or cranberries(optional)
  • 4 or 5 pieces star anise(optional)

Instructions:

  • The Basic Punch: Pour the cranberry juice (reserving 1 1/2 cups), cider, and ginger ale into a punch bowl. Halve the orange, squeezing one half of the juice into the punch. Cut the other half into slices and float them in the punch.
  • Berry Ice Ring: Arrange the berries in a ring-style gelatin mold or bundt pan that can fit inside your punch bowl. Fill the mold with water, then freeze. Un-mold the ring (warm the pan with water) and place it flat side down in the punch.
  • A Hint of Anise: In a small saucepan, bring the anise and reserved cranberry juice to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Pour into a small bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until cold, then stir into the punch.

Cherry Vanilla Smoothie

This sweet-tart smoothie is an all-time favorite. Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers in paper cups. Your kids can have the first round for breakfast, the second for a wholesome dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pitted cherries

Instructions:
  • Blend all ingredients together.
  • Serves 2.

Quick Summer Grillin’ Ideas For Fresh Fruit & Veggies

With the 4th of July weekend just around the corner and many backyard Bar-B-Q grills getting fired up for a good long weekend workout, you may want to experiment with some new or different culinary choices and still manage to stay on the healthy side. It’s very realistic and possible with so many summer fruits and veggies in plentiful supply and generally best prices of the year if  purchased now (especially at farmer’s markets or roadside produce stands).

So here are a few ideas to “get your grill on” or at least get you started and you can adjust seasoning suggestions according to you and your family’s tastes. Many of the suggestions listed below will probably take less time to prepare and grill than it takes to watch your coals turn white. (If you use gas, they’re still almost as fast as heating up the grill.) A few of these edible concoctions feature ingredients like corn, eggplant and tomatoes, which might be better suited a month from now, at least in certain parts of the country. However there are quite a few suggestions for foods that are in season right now that everybody doesn’t necessarily think of putting on the grill. You might wanna make note that salt and pepper are generally added to each of the following in moderation according to you personal preferences .

So Let’s Get Grillin’

  • Best Grilled Artichokes — Cut artichokes in half, scoop out the choke, parboil until tender. Grill, cut-side down, until lightly browned; grill a couple of halved lemons, too. Combine the juice from the grilled lemons with melted butter and spoon over the artichokes. Finish with parsley.
  • Grill Bread — Grind in a food processor to make coarse bread crumbs. (You can add garlic and/or parsley and/or Parmesan, or not.) Grill asparagus until tender. Top with bread crumbs and olive oil.
  • Tahini Tofu Steaks — Thin Tahini with lots of lemon juice and some minced garlic. Cut a brick of firm tofu into four slabs and brush with sesame oil. Grill over a moderate fire, turning a few times, until marked and crisp outside and custardy inside. On the last turn, baste with the Tahini sauce. Serve on thick tomato slices with a drizzle of soy sauce and chopped basil, Thai if possible.
  • For perfectly ripe Tomatoes only — Grill tomatoes, any size, until hot and lightly charred but not bursting. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with fresh mozzarella (or, even better, Burrata) and grilled bread.
  • Grilled Guacamole — Halve and pit avocados; lightly char them, then scoop out the flesh. Grill halved red onion, too. Chop, combine, add tomatoes, lime, garlic and spices if you like.
  • Rub thick Zucchini slices with a mixture of fresh or dried dill, yogurt, olive oil and lemon. (Or use pesto or parsley pesto.) Grill slowly.
  • Lightly char whole or halved heads of baby Bok Choy; drizzle with soy sauce and top with chopped scallions.
  • Peel and thickly slice a not overly ripe Mango. Brush very lightly with neutral oil and grill just until softened; sprinkle with cilantro and/or mint and lime juice (you might as well grill the lime first, too).
  • Grill Pineapple (or anything, really, from pork to tofu to eggplant). Make a sauce of half-cup peanut butter, a tablespoon (or more) soy sauce, a dash (or more) sriracha chili sauce, a handful of basil or mint and enough warm water to thin. (It’s tempting to say, “Throw away the pineapple and eat the sauce,” but the combination is sensational.)
  • Grill Red, Orange and/or Yellow Peppers — Toss with olives, capers, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Charred Salsa Verde — Toss whole husked tomatillos, scallions and jalapeños in olive oil and grill until charred. Remove the blackened skin from the chilies and chop or blend everything with diced avocado, lime juice and cilantro. Eat with chips or top grilled chicken with it.
  • Lightly grill ripe Figs — Brush with balsamic. Chop and toss with arugula and blue cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil.
  • Ratatouille — Grill chunks of zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, eggplant, onion and tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes), all until lightly browned and perfectly tender. Toss with fresh marjoram or oregano, thyme, basil and olive oil.

For more Quick Summer Cookin’ and Grillin’ Ideas —

— check this LINK from the New York Times on Today

Woodstock Turns 40: What Might Have Been

Woodstock_40_Years_Logo_With the 40th anniversary of Woodstock upon us this weekend,  August 15th through 17th (1969), it astounds me to think what might have been if all of the artists who were invited to perform actually showed up and played for this unprecedented and historical event. Some of the musicians and bands who declined or opted out of Woodstock simply did not think that a concert at a dairy farm in the middle of nowhere was destined to be a big deal. It’s interesting that many of the artists from that time have expressed the similar view that, before the festival, there Woodstock-album-coverwas little indication of the importance that this event would come to represent and symbolize. After all, it is said that  hindsight is 20/20. Amazingly enough, some had better things to do, some had better offers or were previously booked elsewhere, still some simply did not care to be around hippies, and still an other hated performing outdoors. Anyway, the reasons varied widely and here you can read and learn more about them. The following is a list of  many acts that told Woodstock festival promoters they had other plans or didn’t show up for various reasons ….. Enjoy, and consider “what might have been”

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Beatles_1969_fieldsThe Beatles promoters had contacted John Lennon to discuss a Beatles performance at Woodstock. Lennon said that the Beatles would not play unless there was also a spot at the festival for Yoko Ono’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’. Supposedly, he was declined because of that. Now keep in mind that there was internal strife going on within the Beatles at this time and it had been almost 3 years since their last live performance. A more believable version of this story came out when Artie Kornfeld met with John Lennon. Lennon had expressed that he wanted to perform at Woodstock, but was in Canada at the time and was having a difficult time getting back into the United States due to “substance issues” as well as a man named Richard Nixon.

Led_Zeppelin_1969Led Zeppelin was asked to perform, but their manager, Peter Grant, decided that they would be “just another band on the bill“. Instead, they launched a hugely successful summer tour. On the weekend of Woodstock, Led Zeppelin played the Asbury Park Convention Hall in New Jersey, just a couple of hours south of the festival.

Doors_1969The Doors were one of the most powerful bands of that era and were invited to perform at as a potential act for the festival, but canceled at the last moment with speculation pointing towards Jim Morrison’s vocal dislike of performing at large outdoor venues. None-the-less, drummer John Densmore did still appear at the festival. He can be seen, in the film, on the side stage during Joe Cocker’s performance set.

Bob_Dylan_1969Bob Dylan was in the middle of negotiations for the upcoming festival but backed out when his son came down with an illness. He was also not very impressed with the increasing number of hippies accumulating outside of his house near the originally planned festival site. A couple of weeks later on August  31, 1969, Dylan went on to “top the bill” along with The Who and perform at the “Isle of Wight Festival” in the United Kingdom with an estimated  crowd of 300,000 in attendance. He would go on to repeat the performance a year later to a crowd of more than double that number.

Moody_Blues_1969The Moody Blues were actually advertised on the original ‘Wallkill’ poster as performers, but decided to back out after being booked in Paris on the exact same weekend. They also went on a couple of weeks later to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival over in England and repeated that performance the following year to an even larger crowd of over 600,000 in attendance.

Byrds_1969The Byrds were invited, but chose not to participate, figuring that Woodstock wouldn’t be any different from all the other music festivals that took place that summer. In addition, there were concerns about money. As bassist John York remembers… “We were flying to a gig and Roger [McGuinn] came up to us and said that a guy was putting on a festival in upstate New York. But at that point they weren’t paying all of the bands. He asked us if we wanted to do it and we said, ‘No’. We had no idea what it was going to be. We were burned out and tired of the festival scene. […] So all of us said, ‘No, we want a rest’ and missed the best festival of all.'”

Jeff_Beck_GroupThe Jeff Beck Group (featuring Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Nicky Hopkins) were booked to perform at ‘An Aquarian Exposition’ (aka ‘Woodstock’), but broke up only a week before the festival was to have begun. Beck broke up the band practically on the eve of what would have been their coup’ de gras – The ‘Woodstock Music Festival’ – at which they were scheduled to play. This is something that Beck now regrets.

Jethro_Tull_1969Jethro Tull decided to pass on the event after Ian Anderson had been reported as saying that he “didn’t want to spend [his] weekend in a field of unwashed hippies”. Another conjecture or theory is their belief that the event was “too big of a deal” and a large festival such as this may kill their career before it even got started. Although Jethro Tull did not perform, their music was still played over the public address system in between performances. In 1970, Jethro Tull went on to perform at the ‘Isle of Wight Festival’ in the United Kingdom along with over 50 other acts.

Procol_HarumProcol Harum (one of the earlier pioneers who helped contribute to the  dynamic fusion of psycheldelic rock with progressive rock) were invited but declined because the festival was taking place just as they had completed the end of a long tour. Also, band member Robin Trower was expecting the birth of his child at any moment. Their initial live debut on stage was as as the opener for Jimi Hendrix on tour back in 1967.

Iron_ButterflyIron Butterfly had been booked to play at Woodstock but ended up getting stranded at the airport. When their manager called the promoters of the concert, he explained their situation and asked for patience. However, the manager demanded that the Butterfly be flown in to the concert grounds by helicopter, whereupon they would “immediately” take the stage. After their set they would be paid and flown back to the airport. The manager was told that this would be taken into consideration, and he would be called back. In truth, his outrageous demands were never given a second thought. Bass guitarist, Lee Dorman later expressed regret at this unfortunate turn of events. He also felt that the band’s career may have gone further had they played the festival.

Zappa_Mothers-of-InventionFrank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention also received an invite. According to the United States broadcast television special, ‘Class of the 20th Century’,  Frank Zappa was quoted as saying “A lot of mud at Woodstock … We were invited to play there – we turned it down”.

Tommy-James-&-ShondellsTommy James and the Shondells also declined an invitation. Later on, lead singer Tommy James would later comment “We could have just kicked ourselves. We were in Hawaii, and my secretary called and said, ‘Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.’ That’ s how it was put to me. So we passed, and we realised what we’d missed a couple of days later.” (excerpt from the liner notes to the album, “Tommy James and the Shondells: Anthology”).

Joni-MitchellJoni Mitchell was originally slated to perform, but canceled at the urging of her manager to avoid missing a scheduled television appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. There appeared to be a potential for “logistical” problems about getting out of the festival grounds after her performance in time to appear on the TV talk show. It is also rumored that Mitchell was discouraged from performing at another festival, by her agent, after an appearance she made previously at the Atlantic City Pop Festival, after she encountered a particularly nasty crowd.

Free-the-bandFree, featuring lead vocal Paul Rodgers and lead guitarist, Paul Kossoff received an invite to perform and decided not to accept. They also ended up performing at the huge ‘Isle of Wight Festival’ a year later that drew nearly 600,000 people.

Spirit-1969Spirit were offered the spot right before Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, but they were advised to turn it down and concentrate on a promotional tour for the release of their third album. Record company managers felt that the festival would not be significant enough, which at that time,  didn’t appear likely, and so they missed out on the massive international exposure that the festival and the subsequent film documentary generated. Remember what I said earlier about hindsight?

Lighthouse-the-bandLighthouse, the Canadian rock band from Toronto who just formed in 1968, was booked to play, but backed out for fear that Woodstock would be a bad scene. The band’s demo record was funded by none other than Richie Havens. One of the first Lighthouse concerts was at Carnegie Hall and in its first year, the band also played at Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Toronto, Boston and Atlantic City Pop Festivals, and the Monterey and Newport Jazz Festivals.

Its-A-Beautiful-DayIt’s A Beautiful Day, a band that emerged out of San Francisco’s “Summer of Love”, cancelled at the last minute. However, lead female vocal, Linda Baker LaFlamme, actually attended the Woodstock Festival and “had the honor to hangout backstage”, as she put it in her own words during an interview. She continued “Those days will never be forgotten by anyone who was there. My life was never the same after that experience.”

Mind Garage, somewhat unknown and just getting their start at the time – also perhaps the first ‘Christian Rock’ band, declined because they thought the festival would be “no big deal” and they, as well, had a higher paying gig elsewhere.

Arthur Lee and Love were another, lesser known, band that also declined the invitation. Mojo Magazine later indicated that inner tension and turmoil within the band was the reason that caused their absence at the Woodstock festival.

Original Newspaper Ad

Original Newspaper Ad (prior to changes)

Best National & State Parks In The USA

lush_winding_road,_olympic_national_park,_washingtonThere’s so much to see and do throughout the United States without spending a fortune to enjoy it. Now, more than ever in these leaner times, is the best opportunity to get out and enjoy some of our magnificent park and recreation areas. You don’t even need to plan a cross country trip (even though there is a temptation to plan for a future road trip) to be able to get away for a week or two (or at least a long weekend)  to enjoy the great outdoors with the family. Check out some of the featured parks below within your area. Links (directly to each site) are provided for each listing for more detailed information.

Best National Parks In The USA

 

Acadia National Park  (Maine)

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Acadia National Park was the First National Park East of the Mississippi River. People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast in the US. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery.

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Arches National Park  (Utah)

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Arches National Park preserves over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, like the world-famous Delicate Arch, as well as many other unusual rock formations. In some areas, the forces of nature have exposed millions of years of geologic history. The extraordinary features of the park create a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures that is unlike any other in the world.

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Carlsbad Caverns  (New Mexico)

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As you pass through the Chihuahuan Desert and Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico and west Texas—filled with prickly pear, chollas, sotols and agaves—you might never guess there are more than 300 known caves beneath the surface. The park contains 113 of these caves, formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone, creating some of the largest caves in North America.

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park  (Ohio)

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One of America’s newest national parks is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Though it’s only a short distance from the urban environments of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The winding Cuyahoga—the “crooked river” as named by American Indians—gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. The park currently contains 133,000 acres, and within its borders features the Cuyahoga River and its valley and gorge, the Ohio and Erie Canal and Towpath Trail, city and county parkland, many buildings and historical elements, a railroad, hiking, bridle, and bicycle trails. The park is a refuge for flora and fauna, gives a sense of times past, and provides recreational opportunities and solitude for Ohio’s residents and visitors.

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Death Valley National Park  (California)

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Death Valley National Park is a “Land of Extremes” – The Hottest, The Driest, The Lowest – A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone and to plants and animals unique to the harshest desert. Death Valley National Park is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and one of the hottest places in the world. It is also a vast geological museum, containing examples of most of the earth’s geological eras. Death Valley National Park includes all of Death Valley, a 130-mile-long north/south-trending trough that formed between two major block-faulted mountain ranges: the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west. Telescope Peak, the highest peak in the Park and in the Panamint Mountains, rises 11,049 feet above sea level and lies only 15 miles from the lowest point in the United States in the Badwater Basin salt pan, 282 feet below sea level. It’s three million acres of wilderness and rich cultural history make it a lifetime’s work to explore all that the valley has to offer.

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Denali National Park  (Alaska)

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Denali National Park & Preserve features North America’s highest mountain, 20,320-foot tall, Denali (as Alaskans call it) or Mount McKinley. The Alaska Range also includes countless other spectacular mountains and many large glaciers. Denali’s more than 6 million acres also encompass a complete sub-arctic eco-system with large mammals such as grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, and moose.

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Everglades National Park  (Florida)

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everglades-national-park-floridaEverglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, boasts rare and endangered species. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to all people of the world. Unlike most other U.S. national parks, Everglades National Park was created to protect a fragile ecosystem instead of safeguarding a geographic feature. Thirty-six species designated as threatened or protected live in the park, including the Florida Panther, the American Crocodile, and the West Indian Manatee. Protecting the largest U.S. wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, the park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America, and contains the largest mangrove eco-system in the western hemisphere. More than 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles live within Everglades National Park.

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Glacier National Park  (Montana)

glacier-national-park-montana

Bordering Alberta, Canada, come and experience Glacier’s pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, waterfalls and spectacular lakes. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Relive the days of old through historic chalets, lodges, transportation, and stories of Native Americans. Coniferous forest is the predominant eco-system, although the forest is visibly different on the east and west sides of the Continental Divide. Trails wind through sub-alpine meadows full of wildflowers and alpine tundras. The park is one of the largest remaining natural grizzly habitats. In addition, the park is also home to two other endangered species – the Canadian Lynx and the Bull Trout. 23 species of fish live in park waters. Birdwatchers will find many species of waterfowl in addition to larger birds of prey, including bald eagles. Coniferous forest is the predominant ecosystem, although the forest is visibly different on the east and west sides of the Continental Divide. Trails wind through sub-alpine meadows full of wildflowers and alpine tundras.

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Grand Canyon National Park  (Arizona)

grand-canyon-national-park-arizona

grand-canyonGrand Canyon National Park, a World Heritage Site, encompasses 1,218,375 acres and lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona. The land is semi-arid and consists of raised plateaus and structural basins typical of the southwest. Drainage systems have cut deeply through the rock, forming numerous steep-walled canyons. Forests are found at higher elevations while the lower elevations are comprised of a series of desert basins.

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Grand Teton National Park  (Wyoming)

grand-teton-national-park-wyoming

Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park preserves a spectacular landscape rich with majestic mountains, pristine lakes and extraordinary wildlife. The abrupt vertical rise of the jagged Teton Range contrasts with the horizontal sage-covered valley and glacial lakes at their base, creating world-renowned scenery that attracts nearly four million visitors per year.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park  (Hawaii) 

hawaii-volcanoes-national-park

kilaueaHawaii Volcanoes, located on the “Big Island” of Hawaii, encompasses 209,695 acres and an astoundingly diverse landscape. The park highlights two of the world’s most active volcanoes. The altitude in the park ranges from sea level to the summit of the earth’s most massive volcano, 13,677-foot Mauna Loa. Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, offers insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. Arid deserts exist within a few miles of lush rainforests and tropical wildlife. Breathtaking views abound in natural splendor and glory and beckon the adventurous explorer.

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Mesa Verde National  Park  (Colorado)

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Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 spectacular cliff dwellings – structures built within caves and under outcroppings in cliffs, including Cliff Palace, which is thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.

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Mount Rushmore National Monument  (South Dakota)

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial is host to almost three million visitors a year from across the country and around the world. They come to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills and to learn about the ideals of democracy and freedom represented by the granite portraits of Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln. Over the decades, Mount Rushmore has grown in fame as a symbol of America-a symbol of freedom and democracy and a hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds.

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Olympic National Park  (Washington)

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Olympic_NPA Land of Contrasts and Variety – Here you will find Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks and a stunning variety of plants and animals. Roads provide access to the outer edges of the park, but the heart of Olympic is wilderness – a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike. It provides habitat for many species, like the Roosevelt Elk, that are native only to the Pacific Northwest coast. Enormous Sitka spruce and Douglas fir, hundreds of feet high, can be found in the Hoh and Queets rain forest valleys on the west side of the park. Thick, furry, epiphyte moss and dense, vibrant vegetation give a beautiful environment in these unique temperate rain forests, which receive fifteen feet of rain per year on average from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

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Rocky Mountain National Park  (Colorado)

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This park is a living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. The elevations range from 8,000′ in the wet, grassy valleys to 14,259′ at the weather-ravaged top of Longs Peak. This provides visitors with opportunities for breathtaking adventures.The park is split by the Continental Divide, which gives the eastern and western portions of the park a different character. The east side of the park tends to be drier, with heavily glaciated peaks and cirques. The west side of the park is wetter and more lush.

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Smoky Mountains National Park  (Tennessee/North Carolina)

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Smoky_Mountain_NPGreat Smoky Mountains National Park preserves a rich cultural tapestry of Southern Appalachian history. The mountains have had a long human history spanning thousands of years—from the prehistoric Paleo Indians to early European settlement in the 1800s to loggers and Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees in the 20th century. This park strives to protect the historic structures, landscapes, and artifacts that tell the varied stories of people who once called these mountains home.

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Yellowstone National Park  (Wyoming/Montana/Idaho)

Majestic Mountains Water Reflection Trees Hd Wallpapers 1080p

Old_Faithful_YellowstoneEstablished in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world’s most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

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Yosemite National Park  (California)

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yosemite-np-half-domeYosemite is home to nearly 2,000 varieties of plants and animals, including giant sequoias. Yosemite’s geology is world renowned for its tall waterfalls and granite rocks. American Indians also have called Yosemite home for perhaps 8,000 years, and along with early pioneers and guardians, have left behind a rich history.

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Zion National Park  (Utah)

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In 1909, U.S. President  Taft named the area a National monument  under the name of Mukuntuweap National Monument. However, in 1918, the changed the park’s name to Zion. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the Virgin River. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, this unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity.

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Best State Parks In The USA

 

Alaska – Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park and Beaver PondBeyond the foothills at Anchorage’s edge lies the third largest state park in USA.  A 500,000 acres of some of the most accessible hiking, skiing, camping, wildlife viewing, snowmachining, rafting, and climbing in Alaska. Those of us lucky enough to live here feel the influence of Chugach State Park almost daily. The mountainous backdrop to Anchorage reminds us that, although we live in an urban setting, we really reside in the middle of a vast wilderness. The Chugach foothills are a beacon for changing weather and resident wildlife have been known to wander into town.

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Florida – St Joseph Peninsula State Park

St_Joseph_Peninsula_state_parkSt. Joseph Peninsula Park has  striking dune formations, miles of virgin white sand beaches, and a heavily forested interior. Dr. Beach once rated this beach as the best beach in America. This 2,516-acre park is bounded by the waters of St. Joe Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Dynamic and dramatic views abound for miles.

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California Big Basin Redwoods State Park

BIg_Basin_Redwoods_State_ParkEstablished in 1902, Big Basin is California’s oldest State Park. Home to the largest continuous stand of Ancient Coast Redwoods south of San Francisco, the park consists of over 18,000 acres of Old Growth and recovering Redwood Forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The climate ranges from foggy and damp near the ocean to sunny, warm ridge tops.

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Oregon Sunset Bay State Park

Sunset_Bay_State_ParkSituated in one of the most scenic areas on the Oregon coast, Sunset Bay State Park features beautiful sandy beaches protected by towering sea cliffs. Only a short walk from the beach, the campground has sites for tent camping and RV’s, as well as cozy and comfortable yurts. Day-use and picnic facilities are located along the bay to allow easy access for beachcombing, fishing, swimming, and boating.

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Florida John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Coral_Reef_State_Park_FloridaJohn Pennekamp  is the nation’s first underwater park. Formed in the 1960’s, Pennekamp Park represents over hundred square miles of mangrove shoreline, grass flats, and of course our famous coral reef. Adjacent to Pennekamp is the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

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Utah Wasatch Mountain State Park

wasatch_mountain_utahWasatch Mountain State Park is in beautiful Heber Valley and is Utah’s most developed state park. Tucked away in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, the park is both a summer and winter destination. One of Utah’s finest and affordable 36-hole golf courses is found here.  Soldier Hollow at Wasatch Mountain State Park was the 2002 Olympic Winter venue biathlon and cross-country events. Soldier Hollow is open year-round to the public for cross-country skiing, tubing, biathlon, snowshoeing,  and many more events.

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New Hampshire – Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia_Notch_State_ParkFranconia Notch State Park is located in the heart of the popular White Mountain National Forest. Franconia Notch is a spectacular mountain pass traversed by a unique parkway which extends from the Flume Gorge at the south to Echo Lake at the north.  Franconia Notch was once the home of the famous Old Man of the Mountain, the same “Great Stone Face” immortalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Daniel Webster. While you are here, visit the Flume Gorge Visitor Center and walk through Flume Gorge, ride the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, and explore the New England Ski Museum. Also, you can swim at Echo Lake, net a trout while fly fishing at Profile Lake, ride your bike on the Recreational Trail, watch for rock climbers, hawks, and falcons on Cannon Cliffs, or hike on the Appalachian Trail.

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Tennessee – Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park

Fall_Creek_FallsFall Creek Falls State Resort Park is one of the most scenic and spectacular recreation areas in America. Its waterfalls, cascades, sparkling streams,  timberland, gorges and an unmatched variety of recreation facilities. Fall Creek Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, plunging 256 feet into a shaded pool at the base of its gorge.

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Texas – Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo_Duro_Canyon_State_Park_TexasLocated about an hour’s drive from Amarillo lies the grandeur of Palo Duro Canyon, a  sixty mile-long and eight hundred foot-deep canyon carved out of the Texas High Plains. Visitors to 16,402-acre Palo Duro Canyon State Park are treated to towering cliffs layered with bands of red, yellow, purple and white. Patches of juniper, mesquite, sunflower and prickly pear cacti adorn the canyon slopes, while red clay and veins of white gypsum blanket the ground.

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Michigan – Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

porcupine-wilderness-parkPorcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is over 60,000 acres  and is  one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Towering virgin timber, secluded lakes, and miles of wild rivers and streams make a visit to the “Porkies” a trip to remember.  This park Park was established in 1945. Since then, many changes have taken place in the way we live; however, the Porcupine Mountains are almost unchanged. The remote interior with its towering pine and hemlock seems to defy time, and the solitude of the park is mysterious and exciting.

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Check out more travel-related posts (all within this website):

►50 Most Popular Tourist Attractions In The World

►Most Popular US Attractions: State By State

►Remembering Lost & Forgotten Roadside Tourist Attractions & Amusement Parks On The West Coast

5 Summer Food Mysteries Revealed

Every now and then we hear things from other people and wonder what truth there may be to the matter. Case in point ….. Here just happens to be some misperceptions about food and what it does or doesn’t do for you. Take a little time to learn and educate yourself so you can be more informed.

PS – By clicking on each image below, you’ll be taken to Yahoo Foods for some wonderful summer recipes that you can make yourself (associated with that particular picture)


True or False?

  • Eating garlic wards off mosquitoes.

> False <

Researchers at the University of Connecticut tested the theory. It didn’t work, but maybe because the participants didn’t eat enough, say the scientists.

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True or False?

  • Watermelon isn’t very nutritious ….. It’s all water!

> False <

Watermelon is mostly water > 92 percent < But it also has its share of nutrients. One cup of watermelon provides good amounts of vitamin C and red watermelon contains lycopene, an antioxidant that’s associated with reduced risk for certain types of cancer.

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True or False?

  • Licking ice cream is more satisfying than eating it with a spoon.

> True <

According to Kay McMath, a food technologist for New Zealand’s Massey University. “Flavor in ice cream is released when the fat-which carries the flavor-is warmed to at least body temperature,” says McMath. When you lick ice cream it coats the tongue and fully warms the frozen treat. A spoon, on the other hand, insulates the ice cream. And then there’s the psychological aspect of savoring the treat more slowly …..  you just cannot lick ice cream as fast as you can spoon it.

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True or False?

  • A piña colada can have as many calories as a cheeseburger.

> True <

Both have about 400 calories. Some of summer’s most popular drinks can boost your daily calorie tally substantially. A margarita has about as many calories (367) as a hot dog with cheese and chili (375). And, from a calorie perspective, drinking a wine cooler is like eating a generous scoop of potato salad.

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True or False?

  • The antioxidants in raspberries help keep your heart healthy.


> True <

Two antioxidants which are found in raspberries — anthocyanins (where raspberries get their red) and ellagic acid — are associated with increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and lowered blood pressure, two positives when it comes to heart health. The yummy berries are also loaded with vitamin C and are high in fiber.

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For more informative articles and advice, check out Eating Well, an excellent source for good food, recipes and healthy eating.

100+ Songs About Sun & Sunshine

Depending upon where you live, the sun is shining brighter than ever and the temperatures are soaring. With this is mind, I thought now may be an appropriate time to put together a good selection of songs with the word “sun” or any derivative of the word, with the exception of Sunday, which is covered in another list here about days of the week.  Words such as sunny, sunshine, sunrise, sunset, sundown are included here. There are tons of other songs out there with sun or sunshine in the lyrics but that would send this list into orbit. There are also several other songs about summer and summertime that evoke messages about sunshine but those are also listed on another post here. A wide range of music is included here, covering about a hundred year span, ranging from big band to heavy metal, early country to modern alternative, pop standards to hip hop, punk to jazz, etc. I tried to keep the music more or less to mainstream appeal. The year when the song debuted are listed after each artist to give you a time frame of sorts. Enjoy using these song listings to create your own mp3 playlist or burning your own music to CD with the sun as your theme.

Get out the suntan lotion and the shades and enjoy! 🙂

Songs About Sun & Sunshine

  1. Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers (1971) 
  2. All For The Love Of Sunshine – Hank Williams Jr. (1970) 
  3. Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In – 5th Dimension (1969) 
  4. Away From The Sun – 3 Doors Down (2004) 
  5. Behind The Sun – Red Hot Chili Peppers (1992) 
  6. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden (1994)
  7. Blister In The Sun – Violent Femmes (1982)
  8. Brighter Than Sunshine – Aqualung (2003) 
  9. California Sun – The Rivieras (1964) 
  10. California Sun – The Ramones (1977)
  11. Canadian Sunset – Andy Williams (1956)
  12. Canadian Sunset – Hugo Winterhalter (1956)
  13. Cheap Sunglasses – ZZ Top (1980)
  14. Children Of The Sun – Billy Thorpe (1979) 
  15. Cold Day In The Sun – Foo Fighters (2006) 
  16. Country Sunshine – Dottie West (1973) 
  17. Distant Sun – Crowded House (1993) 
  18. Do You Know You Are My Sunshine – The Statler Brothers (1978) 
  19. Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying – Gerry & The Pacemakers (1964) 
  20. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Elton John (1974) 
  21. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – George Michael & Elton John (1991)
  22. Everyday Sunshine – Fishbone (1991)
  23. Georgia Sunshine – Jerry Reed (1970)
  24. Good Day Sunshine – The Beatles (1966) 
  25. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles (1969) 
  26. Here Comes The Sun – Richie Havens (1971)
  27. Here Comes The Sun – Nina Simone
  28. Holidays In The Sun – Sex Pistols (1977)
  29. House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals (1964) 
  30. House Of The Rising Sun – Frijid Pink (1970)
  31. I Live For The Sun – The Sunrays (1965)
  32. I’ll Follow The Sun – The Beatles (1964) 
  33. In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down – Jimmy Witherspoon/Charles Brown (1949)
  34. Island In The Sun – Weezer (2001) 
  35. Invisible Sun – The Police (1981) 
  36. It’s A Sunshine Day – The Brady Bunch (1973) 
  37. It’s Just The Sun – Don McLean (1981)
  38. Keep On The Sunny Side – The Carter Family (1928) 
  39. Keep On The Sunny Side – The Whites (2000) [O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack] 
  40. Midnight Girl/Sunset Town – Sweethearts Of The Rodeo (1987)
  41. Miss Sun – Boz Scaggs (1980)
  42. Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon – Paul Revere & The Raiders (1969)
  43. Paper Sun – Traffic (1968) 
  44. People Of The Sun – Rage Against The Machine (1996)
  45. A Place In The Sun – Stevie Wonder (1966) 
  46. A Place In The Sun – Pablo Cruise (1977)
  47. Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks (1974) 
  48. Setting Sun – The Chemical Brothers (1996)
  49. Soak Up The Sun – Sheryl Crow (2002) 
  50. Staring At The Sun – U2 (1997) 
  51. Staring At The Sun – TV On The Radio
  52. Steal My Sunshine – Len (1999)
  53. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) – Walker Brothers (1966) 
  54. The Sun Always Shines On TV – A-Ha (1985) 
  55. Sun City – Artists United Against Apartheid (1985)
  56. Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning – Cowboy Junkies 
  57. Sun Comin’ Up – Nat Stuckey (1976)
  58. Sun Glasses – Skeeter Davis (1965)
  59. Sun God – Hi-Tek (2001)
  60. Sun Goddess – Ramsey Lewis/Earth, Wind & Fire (1975) 
  61. Sun Is Shining – Jimmy Reed (1957)
  62. Sun Is Shining – Bob Marley (1978) 
  63. Sun King – The Beatles (1969)
  64. Sun Went Down In My World Tonight – Leon Everette (1979)
  65. Sunbonnet Sue – Haydn Quartet (1908)
  66. Sunburn – Muse (2000) 
  67. Sunday Sun – Neil Diamond (1968)
  68. Sunday Sunrise – Brenda Lee (1973)
  69. Sunday Sunrise – Anne Murray (1975)
  70. Sundown – Gordon Lightfoot (1974) 
  71. Sundown Mary – Billy Walker (1968)
  72. Sunflower – Russ Morgan (1949)
  73. Sunflower – Frank Sinatra (1949)
  74. Sunflower – Glen Campbell (1977) 
  75. Sunglasses At Night – Corey Hart (1984)
  76. Sunless Saturday – Fishbone (1991)
  77. Sunny – George Olsen (1926)
  78. Sunny – Bobby Hebb (1966)
  79. Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks (1966) 
  80. Sunny Came Home – Shawn Colvin (1997)
  81. Sunny Days – Lighthouse (1972)
  82. Sunny Side Of My Life – Roger Miller (1972)
  83. Sunny Tennessee – Cowboy Copas (1961)
  84. Sunrise – Eric Carmen (1976) 
  85. Sunrise – Norah Jones (2004) 
  86. Sunrise Serenade – Glenn Miller (1939)
  87. Sunrise, Sunset – Roger Williams (1968)
  88. Sun’s Gotta Shine – Wilma Burgess (1970)
  89. Sunset Grill – Don Henley (1985) 
  90. Sunshine – Paul Whiteman (1928)
  91. Sunshine – Jonathan Edwards (1971) 
  92. Sunshine – Dino (1989)
  93. Sunshine – Enchantment (1977)
  94. Sunshine – O’Jays (1975)
  95. Sunshine – Juice Newton (1980)
  96. Sunshine & Bluebirds – Jimmy Newman (1968)
  97. Sunshine & Rainbows – Roy Drusky (1972)
  98. Sunshine & Roses – Elsie Baker & James F. Harrison (1913)
  99. Sunshine & Summertime – Faith Hill (2006) 
  100. Sunshine Alley – Ted Lewis (1928)
  101. Sunshine Girl – Parade (1967)
  102. Sunshine Games – Music Explosion (1967) 
  103. Sunshine Man – Mac Curtis (1968)
  104. Sunshine In The Shade – The Fixx (1984)
  105. Sunshine Lollipops & Rainbows – Lesley Gore (1965) 
  106. Sunshine Of My World – Dallas Frazier (1968)
  107. Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream (1968) 
  108. Sunshine Of Your Smile – John McCormack (1916)
  109. Sunshine On My Shoulders – John Denver (1974) 
  110. Sunshine Roses – Gene Cotton (1979) 
  111. Sunshine Superman – Donovan (1966) 
  112. Tequila Sunrise – Eagles (1973) 
  113. Third Rock From The Sun – Joe Diffie (1994) 
  114. Turn Up The Sun – Oasis (2005)
  115. Waiting For The Sun – The Doors (1970) 
  116. Walkin’ In The Sunshine – Roger Miller (1967) 
  117. Walkin’ On The Sun – Smash Mouth (1997) 
  118. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves (1985) 
  119. Warmth Of The Sun – Beach Boys (1964) 
  120. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks (1968)
  121. We’ll Sing In The Sunshine – Gale Garnett (1964) 
  122. When The Sun Goes Down – Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker (2004) 
  123. When The Sun Goes Down – Arctic Monkeys (2006)
  124. Who Loves The Sun – The Velvet Underground (1971)
  125. You Are My Sunshine – Gene Autry (1931)
  126. You Are My Sunshine – Jimmie Davis (1940) 
  127. You Are My Sunshine – Ray Charles (1962)
  128. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – Stevie Wonder (1973) 
…..And here’s one more relatively new ‘bonus’ song that, although it isn’t listed above because it doesn’t mention sun, sunshine or any other sun-form in the title, it is still a very very VERY sunshine-y song that I kept hearing on TV commercials for JC Penny when they had their back-to-school ads going… recorded by Max & Simon… it’s VERY catchy and I was hooked instantly….. so here is the video lyrics…. enjoy….
and here’s yet another one featured in a current (as of August 2012) Yoplait television commercial, also by Max & Simon. Try to get this one out of your head after listening to it a couple of times….I’m already hooked!   🙂
One more to add that is relatively new that I’ve got stuck in my head now (August/2013)
The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti & Spearhead 

Any favorites of yours that aren’t listed – or any others that you can think of that I haven’t included here? – Just  send me a comment below and let me know.


Islands In The Sun – Songs With A Tropical Theme

tropical-paradise-logoThe Heat Is On .....

The Surf Is Up …..

The Sails Are Set …..

Anyone thinking of an exotic getaway this summer? … Maybe Hawaii, maybe the Caribbean or Jamaica, how about the Cayman Islands or maybe up Alaska way to the Aleutians and the Cook Inlet. Well, even if YOU can’t escape or getaway this summer, give your mind an exotic vacation with some “Tropical Tunes” of the islands. A range of genres from reggae to rock to country to pop standards of long ago are included to give you the feel of a tropical paradise vacation. Soft white sands, palm trees, sailboats, cool breezes, a gentle mist, mild waves, blue horizons, island sunsets, a tropical drink… all reminiscent of well deserved paradise adventure, at least in your mind. Even a couple of pirates and a coconut thrown in for good measure here also. I’m sure there are more out there but this should give you a good start for putting a playlist together for your ipod or even making a cd to take along with you wherever you’re going.

Put your feet up, kick back and enjoy! 🙂

Islands In The Sun ~ Songs With A Tropical Theme

  1. Almost Paradise – Roger Williams
  2. Almost Paradise (Love Theme from Footloose) – Mike Reno & Ann Wilson
  3. Aloha Oe – George Greeley
  4. An American Dream – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  5. Another Day In Paradise – Phil Collins
  6. Back To The Island – Leon Russell
  7. Bali Ha’i – Jo Stafford
  8. Banana Boat Song (Day-O) – Harry Belafonte
  9. Beyond The Blue Horizon – Lou Christie
  10. Beyond The Reef – Andy Williams
  11. Beyond The Sea – Bobby Darin
  12. Blue Hawaii – Elvis Presley
  13. Caribbean – Mitchell Torok
  14. Caribbean Queen – Billy Ocean
  15. Christmas Island – Jimmy Buffett
  16. Coconut – Harry Nilsson
  17. Cool Change – Little River Band
  18. Cool Night – Paul Davis
  19. Ebb Tide – Frank Chacksfield
  20. Enchanted Island – The Four Lads
  21. Escape (The Pina Coloda Song) – Rupert Holmes
  22. Gidget Goes Hawaiian – Duane Eddy
  23. Harbor Lights – Sammy Kaye
  24. Hawaii – The Beach Boys
  25. Hawaii Five-O – The Ventures
  26. Hawaii Tattoo – The Waikkis
  27. Hawaii Sunset – Elvis Presley
  28. Hawaiian War Chant – Billy Vaughn
  29. Hawaiian Wedding Song – Andy Williams
  30. Hold On – Santana
  31. Hula Love – Buddy Knox
  32. I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash or Jimmy Cliff
  33. In The Middle Of An Island – Tennessee Ernie Ford
  34. Island – Jesse Colin Young
  35. Island Girl – Elton John
  36. Island In The Sun – Harry Belafonte
  37. Island Of Lost Souls – Blondie
  38. Island Of Love – Elvis Presley
  39. Island Woman – Pablo Cruise
  40. Islands – John Denver
  41. Islands In The Stream – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
  42. Jamaica Farewell – Harry Belafonte
  43. Jammin’ – Bob Marley
  44. Kokomo – The Beach Boys
  45. La Isla Bonita – Madonna
  46. The Last Farewell – Roger Whitaker
  47. Late In The Evening – Paul Simon
  48. Leah – Roy Orbison
  49. Little Coco Palm – Jerry Wallace
  50. Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett
  51. Margaritaville – Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett
  52. Montego Bay – Bobby Bloom
  53. Moondance – Van Morrison
  54. On An Island – David Gilmour
  55. Paradise – Sade
  56. Paradise – Third World
  57. Pearly Shells – Burl Ives
  58. Pineapple Princess – Annette
  59. A Pirate Looks At Forty – Jimmy Buffett
  60. Quiet Village – Martin Denny
  61. Red Red Wine – UB40
  62. Red Sails In The Sunset – The Platters
  63. Rock-A-Hula Baby – Elvis Presley
  64. Sloop John B – The Beach Boys
  65. Smiling Islands – Robbie Patton
  66. Soak Up The Sun – Sheryl Crow
  67. Spill The Wine – Eric Burden & War
  68. Stranger In Paradise – Tony Bennett
  69. Sweet Leilani – Bing Crosby
  70. Tamoure – Bill Justis
  71. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
  72. Thunder Island – Jay Ferguson
  73. The Tide Is High – Blondie
  74. Tiny Bubbles – Don Ho
  75. Two Pina Coladas – Garth Brooks
  76. Trade Winds – Billy Vaughn
  77. Volcano – Jimmy Buffett
  78. White Silver Sands – Don Rondo

tropical-paradise

Here are a few additional song posts with related themes:

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