What Summer Looked Like the Year You Were Born

You know the saying, "some things never change." Well, it's the truth—especially when it comes to our favorite summer traditions. Find out what barbecues, road trips and days by the beach looked like through the decades.

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Road trips, lemonade stands, afternoons at the beach—no matter the year, some things never change. See how folks celebrated warm weather, long days and all things summer vacation with a look at summer through the decades.

Don’t miss our best tips and recipes worth trying this summer.

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Lisa Kaminski


No matter the decade, summers are for kicking back, enjoying the weather and maybe even taking a dip. These bathing beauties donned their caps for a swim back in 1940, and we have to admit they still look fab!

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Lisa Kaminski


For many of us, summertime isn’t complete without getting out on the water and maybe doing a little fishing. Fry up your catch of the day and serve it alongside these fish fry favorites.

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Every summer, we love getting into the 4th of July spirit, just like this crew of kids. Kick back and celebrate at home with these easy Independence Day recipes.

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Lisa Kaminski


Tennis, boating, relaxing by the lake—doesn’t that sound like the perfect summer vacation? We are 100% behind this young lady’s vacation plans. We’re also 100% behind these easy summer recipes.

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Reader's Digest


Indulging in America’s favorite pastime like this ’40s kid? Be sure to indulge in a few of these ballpark favorite foods, too!

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Summertime means packing up a basket and heading out to the park to picnic, much like this family back in the ’40s.

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Sharing a drink with your companion? Well, that cements dog’s reputation as man’s best friend. You can also share these treats, too—safe for people and pets.

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Is there anything sweeter than this mother-daughter duo enjoying a quick dip (even if it’s just their toes)? We think not.

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What could be more refreshing than watermelon on a hot summer day? These gal pals are eating this snack whole, but you can try it in these fun recipes all summer long.

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Truly is there anything more nostalgic than a trip to the drive-in? We can imagine the carhops in their rollerskates now. We’re also seriously craving a good burger. You can grill up these this summer—bring your own rollerskates, though!

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Lisa Kaminski


Anyone else envious of these Esther Williams-style bathing suits? We’re loving these ladies’ classic ’50s style (and we love these 1950s recipes, too).

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For decades, kids have looked forward to attending fairs and carnivals—and who can blame them? Rides, games and some of the most indulgent food around! Recreate some of these fair-favorite treats with these recipes.

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For so many kids—no matter the decade—the 4th of July wouldn’t be the same without decorating their bikes for the big parade. Refuel your kids after the big ride with these patriotic cookies.

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We cannot get over these ’50s-style cat-eye glasses! They just scream old-school glam to us. Speaking of old-school, we’re ready for these vintage recipes to make a comeback.

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Summer vacation and road trips are practically synonymous. We envy this ’50s family’s ride for sure!

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Be it 1955 or today, a pristine beach on a sunny day is the best place to be. Keep your family going all day long and pack a few of these low-carb snacks.

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On a hot day, there’s nothing like a dip in the pool—even this miniature backyard version. After a swim, stay cool with one of our favorite iced tea recipes.

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Heading to the woods this summer? Be prepared to cook over the campfire with our top tips.

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It looks like this woman caught a big one! For your smaller catches of the day, try these quick and easy fish recipes—all ready in 30 minutes or less.

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There’s nothing like a good bike ride on a perfect summer day. It gets only better if you get to pedal with your sweetheart, just like this couple did. Oh, and a great destination, like these great farmers markets (find the best in your state!), doesn’t hurt either.

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When school lets out, many families head to Disneyland for a much-needed vacation.

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Heading out on the course this summer? We bet looks a bit different than it did back in the ’60s!

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Popsicles were first introduced in 1905, but really reached their heydey in the ’50s and ’60s. If you’re like these kids and love the frozen treats, try stirring them at home. We’ve got some great recipes and great tips on how you can make them without a mold.

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Heading out on a trip? Summer has always been the perfect time to hop on a plane or hit the road.

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A visit to the fair isn’t quite the same without a ride on the Ferris wheel. Before you hit up your local fair, check out the wildest state fair foods from across the country.

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What’s summer for kids without a bit of mischief? We’re sure these boys and they’re very high tech walkie talkies got up to a little trouble!

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For kids, summer vacation almost always means hitting the street on a new bike. Who hasn’t spent long hours mazing through the neighborhood with their friends?

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Kids have been running lemonade stands for decades. These gals are selling it by the cupful for just 5¢! Stir up these tasty recipes this summer, and folks will be willing to pay a lot more!

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In the dog days of summer, you do whatever you have to cool off. Just ask this family! A tastier way to beat the heat just might be these fun and vintage-inspired icebox desserts, though!

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For some families, it wouldn’t be summer without a camping trip. We don’t envy this crew for having to squeeze into one tent together! We hope they tried some of our favorite camping recipes, though.

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Visiting amusement parks—even small ones like Cincinnati’s version of Coney Island—is essential for any good summer vacation, be it 1970 or today. If you’re lucky, these parks will have some pretty decent guilty pleasure eats. But we here that Dollywood in Tennessee does park fare best.

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Some folks love to dress up no matter the season and no matter the occasion—even babysitting on a sunny summer afternoon. If you love getting dolled up in the kitchen, try our prettiest cakes ever.

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Disneyland is known as the happiest place on earth. Sure looks like it in this ’72 snap!

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Summer vacation can get pretty wild. While we don’t recommend wrangling raccoons (and a cat) like these kids, we can recommend getting outside and doing some cooking. Here are our top tips for cooking over a fire.

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Looking to beat the heat? We think that a trip to the beach, like this adorable family, really fits the bill. When you’re ready to cool down, try one of these tasty lemonade desserts.

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When it comes to weddings, June has always been a popular month. Just look at all these brides dolled up and showing off the latest (and now wonderfully retro) fashions. Got a few weddings coming up? Try these bridal shower treats.

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Shutterstock / AP/REX


1976 marked the United States’ bicentennial. This year saw a renewed interest in all things early American, including recipes like these.

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Nicole Doster


How sweet is a summer romance? Impress your better half with these romantic recipes.

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When you think of the ’70s, visions of wood-paneled station wagons like this one might come to mind. How many of us packed inside one of these for a trip to the beach or a cross-country road trip? If you’re making a trek this summer, bring some of these easy-to-pack road trip snacks to make the journey a little easier.

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We are loving the tropical vibes of this summer photo. We’d be happy to travel to Hawaii for a luau over our summer vacation, but we’d be glad to whip up these tropical desserts to get those island feelings, too!

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Summer oftentimes has us yearning for simpler times, like running through the sprinkler in the backyard, biking through the neighborhood and making s’mores. The sprinkler might seem too cold now, but we’d still try these fun takes on s’mores.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (88888h) Prince Charles and Princess Diana Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, London, Britain - 29 Jul 1981


In the summer of 1981, we were all captivated by the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles. Our love for royals certainly hasn’t dimmed—especially with American Meghan Markle joining the family!

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For some, summer is about getting ready for the school year ahead (like Michelle, founder of My Nanny Eva’s Rugellah is here).

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Jeanne Ambrose


Sometimes the heat can get the better of you on a hot day. If that’s the case, bring your sun hat inside and whip up a few of these recipes—perfect for when it’s too hot to cook.

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For some folks, summer isn’t the same without a trip to the farm for berry picking. Take advantage of all the amazing produce summer has to offer with these farmers market recipes.

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Jeanne Ambrose


Whether you’re hitting up Hawaii this summer like this lucky family, or just love island flavors, you’ll want to say “aloha” to this tasty chicken dinner.

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When you’re a kid even the tiniest catch can feel like a big win. If your minnows are too small to fry, you can try our taste tester-approved fish sticks for an easy dinner.

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When we look at some snaps of the past, some looks are timeless. Some styles aren’t quite as classic—no judgment! Get your ’80s fix without the mullets and mohawks with these recipes.

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Jeanne Ambrose


Nothing new here! We’re sure that families everywhere have these silly bunny ear photos from every decade. We still think this snap is pretty cute, though!

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Nancy Kaminski


When the weather heats up, you know it’s time to start hosting some backyard barbecues. Be sure to include a few of these summertime BBQ recipes—all with some retro flair.

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Looking at this pic, you realize this could just as easily be 2018 as it is 1990. Today, we’re still doing all the same things when we head to the beach: packing our best vacation reads, dipping our toes in the water and packing our coolers full of refreshing drinks like these iced tea recipes.

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Nancy Kaminski


Everyone—even the tiniest of tots—loves a good ice cream on a hot day. Like most things, homemade is best. Did you know you can make it in your own kitchen? No fancy gadgets required.

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Nancy Kaminski


Looking to dive into summer? We can’t think of a better way than a splashy pool party. While we may not have mastered the form of this young diver, we think we can master these fun poolside snacks.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Stock Connection/REX/Shutterstock (2395690a) African - American women and child sitting under a tree, Los Angeles, CA. VARIOUS
Shutterstock/REX/Stock Connection


Summertime means enjoying every last bit of the warm weather, like this family. Maximize that outdoor time and try these quick, no-cook dinners, perfect for long summer days.

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Nancy Kaminski


I think we all know how this hot dog jingle goes. We’ll let you take care of the singing—we’ve got the best hot dog recipes covered.

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Some things never change, no matter the year. Case in point: the classic tilt-a-whirl. If carnival rides aren’t your thing, try carnival eats instead, like this amazing funnel cake recipe.

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Nicole Doster


Heading to the cape like this kiddo this summer? Well, you’ll probably want to give one of these New England-style recipes a try.

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Spring and early summer is crawfish season in some parts of the country. If you’re lucky enough to catch a few, like this ’90s couple, whip up a few Cajun inspired recipes like these crawfish beignets.

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Reader's Digest


Seriously, how serene does this tropical vacation look? If you’re craving these easy-going vibes, try these tasty tropical recipes for a taste of the good life—right from your own kitchen.

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Nancy Kaminski


Summer is, of course, tailgate time. Like this young woman, we love easy pregame foods like hot dogs and brats, but you can’t forget all the extras! Check out these tailgate-ready apps.

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Country Woman


At the end of the day, summer hasn’t changed too much! We’re still running through sprinklers, firing up the grill and enjoying every minute of those long days.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.
Amy Glander
Amy is a book editor at Taste of Home where she gets to pour her passions for food and storytelling into trade and series cookbooks. When she’s not writing or editing, you’ll find her antiquing, cooking and baking from her favorite vintage cookbooks and exploring Milwaukee’s urban beauty with her digital SLR in hand.