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Photo courtesy of Whataburger

With its love of greasy enchiladas, gluttonous fried steaks, and fat-speckled brisket, Texas isn’t always known as a healthy eating mecca. But it turns out that one locally beloved dish isn’t as unhealthy as one might think.

Inspired by February’s American Heart Month (albeit belatedly), Gambling.com decided to dig deep into which fast-food burger was best for the ticker and the body overall. What that has to do with online slots is anyone’s guess, but perhaps open-heart surgeries are not conducive to risk-taking.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Local favorite/ food cult Whataburger took the top slot, earning honors with its standby cheeseburger. Assumably, the gambling site considered the mustard-slathered original, eschewing calorie bombs like bacon slices and creamy pepper sauce.

Where’s the fun of Whataburger if you can’t get it just like you like it?

To arrive at the rankings, Gambling.com analyzed each burger for sugar, fat, salt, and calorie content per ounce. Each metric was given a one to ten score that factored into the final report card shared with content-hungry food journalists everywhere.

Coming in a close second was In-N-Out’s cheeseburger, a comforting fact for Texans who enjoy complaining about Californians. Rounding out the top five were Checker’s Checkerburger with Cheese, Culver’s ButterBurger Cheese, and Del Taco’s del Cheese Burger.

For those trying to make better eating choices, that list should give some pause. Yes, Whataburger beats out other fast-food faves, but it was competing against a chain that literally toasts all their buns in churned cream. Health is a relative concept.

Elsewhere on the list was another Texas darling, the No. 6 ranked Dairy Queen. Apparently, all that “hungr” is being busted by a hefty dose of sodium. Yes, we will take fries with that.

Photo courtesy of Texas Original

It only takes 3 steps to get medical cannabis in Texas

Easy As 1, 2, 3

As the Texas Legislature convenes for its 88th session, many patients, physicians, and advocates are pushing for expansions to the Compassionate Use Program, the state’s medical cannabis program.

Since 2015, the program has expanded twice, allowing for more than 150 conditions to qualify for medical cannabis.

For thousands of patients in the state, medical cannabis provides a safe alternative to opioid medications and effective relief for symptoms like pain, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, muscle spasms, and more.

Texas Original, the state’s leading medical cannabis provider, makes the process of getting a prescription easy. Receiving a medical cannabis prescription starts with a few simple steps:

Step 1: Find out if you qualify
The first step is to find out if you qualify by scheduling an appointment with a doctor registered in the Compassionate Use Program.

Several registered doctors offer convenient virtual appointments through telemedicine practices so patients can meet with the doctor from anywhere in Texas.

To set your appointment, visit Texas Original’s website and fill out the form. Veterans, first responders, teachers, and medical professionals are eligible to receive a free first appointment for a six-month prescription. If you belong to one of these eligible groups, simply check the box on the form.

Step 2: Talk to a doctor
During your appointment, the doctor will review your medical records and confirm if you are eligible for medical cannabis, then discuss your treatment plan.

Once approved, your doctor will add your prescription to the online medical cannabis registry, where it can be accessed by licensed dispensaries.

Step 3: Receive a prescription
After your appointment, call 512-614-0343 to place your first order. Texas Original offers the state’s leading medical-grade cannabis products, including Texas’ first fast-acting medical cannabis gummies.

All products undergo rigorous testing and the results are published publicly on Texas Original’s website for patients to access anytime.

The dispensary team will help you select your products, then schedule you for a pickup at a location nearest to you or arrange home delivery.

Medical cannabis provides Texans an all-natural option that may help alleviate symptoms like pain, insomnia, and anxiety that are commonly associated with approved medical conditions.

If you or a loved one are ready to start your journey with medical cannabis, reach out to Texas Original to get started. Plus, enjoy a 20 percent discount on your first order at Texas Original.

The Ion

What’s Next, Now: Ion District Showcase

The Ion District Showcase will feature startups and corporations from Houston’s key industries, including healthcare, energy, finance, and technology, who will showcase their innovative solutions and products that are transforming the way we live and work.

Guests will have the opportunity to engage with the founders and thought leaders who are driving these innovations and explore what’s next in their respective industries. They will learn about the latest trends and technologies shaping our future, and how these innovations are changing the world around us. Enjoy the showcase, network with other innovators, and learn more about Ion District and their partners.

Showcase participants include Aramco, Baker Botts L.L.P., bp, ExxonMobil, GCC, Improving, Microsoft, Oxy, SLB INNOVATION FACTORI, and Woodside Energy.

Photo courtesy of Memorial Hermann

Memorial Hermann debunks these 4 myths about joint replacement

Fact vs. Fiction

Are myths about joint replacement stopping you from getting relief from nagging joint pain? Don’t be fooled.

When pain in your knees or hips interferes with your daily routine, it’s time to learn the facts about life-changing options for pain relief. Many Houstonians suffer from joint pain, and — unfounded — fears – can prevent or postpone them from seeking help.

Memorial Hermann Joint Center’s team of affiliated specialists is trained to provide an individualized treatment plan for each patient, offering solutions and information that separate the facts from fiction.

"I’m too young — or too old — for joint replacement"
Age is relative here — there is no magic age for joint replacement and it’s not unheard of for a 20-year-old or a 95-year-old to both benefit.

The best time for joint replacement is when you are experiencing chronic pain and are no longer able to enjoy an active lifestyle. Consider your quality of life. If you have difficulty walking and enjoying normal daily activities, it is time to explore options for relief. There are patients today in their 90s who are still healthy, live independently, and get pain relief so they can continue to live independently.

"Joint implants don’t last very long"
New, innovative materials make implants more dependable and long-lasting, as well as open the door of opportunity for patients both young and old.

Memorial Hermann Joint Center’s affiliated staff acknowledge that in the past, implants typically did not last longer than 10 years. With advances in implant materials and design, however, hip implants today can last 25 to 30 years and knee implants 15 to 20 years. In addition to implant longevity, most patients enjoy a better level of function and less pain after surgery.

"It’s best to wait to see a doctor until I can’t walk anymore"
A lot of problems start small, and if a patient waits too long then the problem can worsen. The cause of your pain in your knee or hip may be easy to solve right now, and you may only need an injection.

Surgery is not always the best option, and nonsurgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications or physical therapy should always be explored prior to surgery. If you wait too long to see a doctor, there may be other health issues to consider. You’re also extending the months, and possibly years, of chronic pain.

"Recovery from joint replacement is long and painful"
There are many reasons why recovery from joint replacement is faster now: better surgical techniques, better instruments, and much smaller incisions. Better pain management also typically leads to a more rapid recovery.

Most patients are out of bed faster, usually the same day of surgery, and back to normal activities within a few weeks. Patients can usually return to moderate activities such as walking, biking, or swimming in four to six weeks, with full recovery extending up to six months. Other patients may recover even sooner!

For more information on joint replacement, visit memorialhermann.org/joint or call 713-242-2586.

Photo courtesy of Texas Original

A 4/20 guide on how to get a medical cannabis prescription in Texas

Find Relief

This 4/20, celebrate the life-changing benefits of medical cannabis with Texas Original, the leading medical cannabis dispensary in Texas.

Since opening its doors in Austin in 2018, Texas Original has served patients from all corners of the state with several convenient pickup locations in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and more.

With over 150 conditions approved under the Compassionate Use Program, medical marijuana has become a source of relief for thousands of Texans.

From enabling patients to attain a life without seizures to helping patients break free from the grips of harmful opioid medications, medical cannabis brings hope to countless Texans across the state.

Ready to become a patient? Follow these steps to get a medical marijuana prescription in Texas.

Step 1: Find out if you qualify
The first step is to check if you are eligible for medical cannabis. Several doctors registered in the Compassionate Use Program offer virtual appointments for Texans statewide.

To set up an appointment, visit Texas Original's website and fill out the form.

If you belong to an eligible group (veterans, first responders, teachers, and medical professionals), check the box on the form to receive a free first appointment for a six-month prescription and discounts on follow-up appointments.

Step 2: Talk to a doctor
During your appointment, the doctor will review your medical records and confirm your eligibility for medical cannabis. Once approved, your doctor will add your prescription to the online medical cannabis registry, where licensed dispensaries can access it.

Step 3: Get your prescription
After your appointment, call 512-614-0343 to place your first order. Texas Original offers the state's leading medical-grade cannabis products, including the state's first fast-acting medical cannabis gummies.

All products undergo rigorous testing and the results are published publicly on Texas Original's website for patients to access anytime. The dispensary team will help you select your products and schedule you for a pickup or delivery.

As a leader in the state, Texas Original is dedicated to bringing high-quality medical cannabis products to Texans.

Start your journey to relief by reaching out to Texas Original. Plus, enjoy 20 percent off your first order of medical-grade products.

Medical cannabis plant

Photo courtesy of Texas Original

Medical marijuana has become a source of relief for thousands of Texans.

Courtesy photo

Thanks to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, a mother's scary pregnancy complication has a sweet ending

Maggie's Story

When 33-year-old Maggie Sharma got pregnant six months after her first son was born, she was so excited to welcome another child into her growing family. She assumed her second pregnancy would be similar to her first: full term, no complications, and a relatively easy delivery.

But during her 20-week anatomy scan — an ultrasound that includes an in-depth examination of the baby’s organs and overall development — Maggie’s doctor, Dr. Taryll Jenkins, discovered that she had a complication called placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta covers the opening of the cervix, usually preventing a vaginal delivery. Dr. Jenkins is affiliated with Memorial Hermann.

“My doctor and I decided together to monitor it and follow up with another scan in a few weeks,” Maggie says. “I was so nervous after I first learned about my diagnosis, so I started doing all of this research on my own, and that’s when I first came across The Fetal Center. I feel so blessed to live in a city where there are doctors who are world-renowned in the specific complication I had.”

When Maggie came back for another ultrasound, however, she learned that her placenta previa was most likely something even more serious: a condition called placenta accreta, in which the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall.

Because of the severe complications that can arise from this condition, her OB-GYN referred Maggie to The Fetal Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

The Fetal Center is a highly specialized program and international leader in high-risk pregnancy complications, including fetal diagnosis, fetal intervention, and comprehensive fetal care for infants with congenital anomalies or genetic abnormalities.

In collaboration with pediatric subspecialists at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, the care team works closely with patients and their referring providers to create a comprehensive plan for each mother, including fetal interventions as well as coordinated plans for before, during, and after birth.

During her countless hours of research about her condition, Maggie repeatedly ran across a certain name: Dr. Ramesha Papanna. She knew he was a leader in treating placenta accreta, and she was relieved when she was brought under his care for the remainder of her pregnancy. Dr. Ramesha Papanna is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at McGovern Medical School who serves as co-director of The Fetal Center.

“He put me at ease and made sure I was monitored closely,” Maggie says. “Dr. Papanna and the whole team took the time to answer all of my questions and explain all of the risk factors that come with placenta accreta during delivery. I was very nervous, but they did everything they could to make me feel comfortable with the situation I was faced with. They really took care of both me and my baby, and I felt very educated and prepared every step of the way.”

“Placenta accreta can be a serious condition, and it is considered a high-risk pregnancy complication,” Dr. Papanna explains. “In a typical pregnancy, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall after childbirth, but in the case of placenta accreta, some of the placenta remains attached, which carries the risk of severe blood loss immediately after delivery. Once this condition is diagnosed and the degree of severity has been determined, the team takes a multidisciplinary approach to care for the patient to improve outcomes.”

Dr. Papanna followed Maggie closely to make sure there were no additional complications leading up to delivery. At 30 weeks, after some unexpected bleeding, the team wasted no time admitting her to the Women’s Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital — a Level IV maternal facility, which denotes the highest level of care — for around-the-clock monitoring.

“He prepared the team in case I needed to deliver,” Maggie recalls. “Thankfully, I only had to stay in the hospital for a week.”

After that, Maggie and her husband, who live in Katy, about an hour away from the hospital, moved into a hotel in the Texas Medical Center so that she could get to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital quickly in case she started bleeding again.

As part of her care plan, she had regular checkups with the affiliated, multidisciplinary team who specialize in high-risk pregnancies and work to optimize care for both mom and baby. As Maggie came upon the 33-week mark, her care team determined that she would need to deliver soon, for the sake of both her baby’s health and her own.

“Because of the risk of severe complications during delivery, women with placenta accreta often need to deliver a few weeks early and via C-section,” Dr. Papanna says. “This minimizes the risk of losing too much blood during delivery and allows specialists to have a detailed plan for the entire process. We want to have blood supply on hand should there be a need for a blood transfusion, as well as additional specialized surgeons standing by, since patients with this condition sometimes require a hysterectomy after the delivery.”

For patients with placenta accreta, a hysterectomy, which is the complete removal of the uterus, is often required to reduce blood loss.

The day before Maggie was scheduled to have her C-section, she was admitted to the Women’s Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to prepare for her high-risk delivery. Her team of specialists inserted ports to expedite the process of giving her blood should she need a transfusion, and they went over everything she should expect in detail, as well as any complications that could arise and their plan for each possible scenario.

“I was terrified but I knew I was in the best hands,” Maggie says. “They told me that I could stay awake for the C-section, but they also walked me through potential complications, including the fact that they may need to put me under general anesthesia after the delivery.”

The affiliated maternal-fetal medicine physicians and care teams, as well as care providers from the blood bank, critical care, interventional radiology, nursing, OB anesthesia, adult trauma surgeons, and more, are involved in each case of placenta accreta spectrum disorders. The teams are present at delivery and are involved in each patient’s journey, from initial consults to imaging and operating room logistics to post-operative intensive care support for both mother and baby.

The next morning, Maggie was full of mixed emotions: terrified of her high-risk delivery yet excited to finally meet her baby girl. She remembered the room being full of specialists, including multiple physicians and nurses from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as well as a surgeon named Dr. Joseph Lucci, a UTHealth Houston OB-GYN and gynecological oncologist affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, who specializes in complex conditions of the placenta and was prepared to perform an emergency hysterectomy if necessary.

Dr. Lucci serves as professor and director of gynecologic oncology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at McGovern Medical School.

On November 20, 2020, Maggie delivered Mila, a healthy baby girl. Because she was born early, at 33 weeks, Mila was taken to the Level IV NICU at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital for monitoring, but Maggie was overjoyed to be awake and able to meet her in the moment. Shortly thereafter, however, Maggie started losing blood, and her blood pressure plummeted. Before she knew what was happening, a swarm of specialists surrounded her, working urgently to save her life.

“They put me under general anesthesia as soon as all of that started and made my husband leave the room,” Maggie says.

When Maggie finally woke up in the ICU, she learned that part of her placenta had ripped apart during delivery, an anticipated complication for patients with placenta accreta.

“We were prepared for this possibility and decided to perform an emergency hysterectomy as soon as we discovered what had happened,” Dr. Lucci says. “When the placenta grows into the wall of the uterus, the blood vessels of both become intertwined, so it is very difficult to separate the two without the potential for life-threatening blood loss. In cases like this, fully removing the uterus stems blood loss and leads to the best outcomes. Without the option of a hysterectomy, many women with placenta accreta would not survive their deliveries.”

Maggie later learned that she had to have a total of six blood transfusions that day to save her life.

“I’m now the biggest advocate for donating blood, and I am so thankful that I delivered at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, not only because my team of specialists was so prepared but because there was never any question about whether they had enough blood on hand or if they had adequate resources for me or my baby,” she says.

Maggie was in the hospital for five days total, and Mila stayed in the NICU for less than three weeks before she was strong enough to come home. Today, the Sharma family is healthy and thriving.

“My daughter is a year and a half now, and she’s doing great,” Maggie says. “She’s caught up on all of her milestones, loves to eat, loves to laugh, and she can be feisty — she has a really big personality. She loves her brother, and he’s already very protective of her. It’s really sweet.”

Maggie says she will be forever grateful for the care team for safely delivering Mila and for saving her own life.

“Looking back, I feel so lucky,” Maggie says. “There are so many people I talked to when I first learned about my condition who have actually traveled here to Houston to get this care from Dr. Papanna and the team. They saved my life.”

To learn more about maternal and neonatal care services at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, click here.

Maggie Sharma and Mila

Courtesy photo

Maggie Sharma and baby Mila.

To learn more about high-risk pregnancy care and services at Memorial Hermann, click here.

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Located within the Texas Medical Center, The Fetal Center is affiliated with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians, and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

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Joel the Lab mix's big smile is one to fall in love with at Houston SPCA

Adoptable Dog

If you've always envisioned having a dog that can wow a crowd with tricks, then adopting Joel is a great first step.

This two-year-old Lab mix that's currently at the Houston SPCA is super treat motivated, which means he's eager to learn. He already knows how to sit like a champ, so training him to do more complicated commands would be no sweat.

Joel is a playful guy at 57 pounds, who loves to wrestle and run with his pals.

But if you're also seeking a pup who's into quiet time, he's never met a couch he doesn't love to stretch out on.

Joel is what's known as a VIP — Very Important Pup — so his adoption fee is 50 percent off, only $25.

That includes a microchip, neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, a free sample bag of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and a free post-exam from any VCA Animal Hospital.

Stop by the Houston SPCA, which is open every day from 11 am-6 pm, to spend some time in the play yards with Joel and many other adoptable pets.

Houston SPCA adoptable dog Joel

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

He's eager to please and easy to train.

CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd uncorks his favorite  Austin restaurants and bars for superb sips and bold bites

wine guy wednesday

Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day. When Chris expressed interest in writing about wine-related topics for CultureMap, we said yes.

In this week's column, he shares a few of his favorite places to drink wine in Austin. Take it away, Chris.

I spent this past weekend cooking at Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck festival, which benefits my foundation Southern Smoke. This weekend, I tried a few new spots with great wine programs and visited a few old favorites.

I know a lot of you visit Austin frequently, so here’s my list.

Let’s start with the OG, June’s All Day. We visit June’s almost every time we’re in Austin for a bottle of wine, some shaved ham, fried chicken sandwich, and happy smiles. Word on the street (also known as their website and wine list) is that all sparkling wines are 50-percent off on Monday nights after 5 pm. Who says Mondays aren’t a good day to start drinking?

Underdog is a new spot in town that's only been open for a few weeks. It’s a bottle shop and wine bar with an eclectic list focused on small producers — some classic and some new winemakers. I’m a big fan of their selection of Veyder Malberg, which is a really amazing Austrian producer of Riesling and Gruner. They also have a fantastic selection of red Burdgundys and Rhone. Their food is Korean-inspired and delicious. The bites we had were outstanding. I look forward to going back to Underdog over and over again.

For a tried-and-true wine spot, go get in line at Birdie’s(Editor’s note: It just won Restaurant of the Year in the 2023 CultureMap Austin Tastemaker Awards). Don’t worry, it moves fast. Husband/wife team Tracy Malechek and Arjav Ezekiel run one of my favorite restaurants in Austin. Both the menu and the wine list are always. I asked Arjav to share a little insight into his wine program:

“The list changes all the time, and we’re really thoughtful about the wines we serve. We put the same effort into sourcing our wines as Tracy does with her ingredients in the kitchen, and we take a lot of cues from the weather. In the summer, we have more rosé, white, sparkling, and orange wines. In the winter, the whites become more full-bodied with more reds on the list,” he says.

“It’s a thoughtful blend of classic producers and new, fun, young guard. Too many wine lists pick a side, and it was important to us to build a list of things we’re excited about — whether it’s a cool new natty producer or a Burgundy that’s farmed correctly and been around for 100 years. We want our program to be a bridge for drinkers, introducing something new no matter what styles they typically drink.”

If you’re looking for a place you can hang out and drink wine all day or if a magnum is your speed at 12:30 pm, Lolo is your spot. It’s a killer wine shop and bar on the East side of Austin with all natural wines. The staff is very knowledgeable and can recommend anything from Pet Nats to orange wines to your large formats of happiness. Pro tip: if you have afternoon meetings, schedule them here! If you’re trying to avoid meetings, this is also the place to be.

Enough about wine! Here are two other spots that you should definitely check out.

Uptown Sports Clubis Aaron Franklin and James Moody’s new restaurant, and it’s essentially always open. Walk-ins only, 8am-2am. Here you’ll find great po-boys and gumbo, a strong cold seafood selection, and the cocktails are fantastic. Don’t come here to watch sports. The only TV in the building is an 8-inch tube TV showing black and white baseball reruns from the ‘70s.

Este is the new Mexican seafood spot from the Suerte team. Chef Fermin Nuñez has this place humming. The menu has delightful treats like seafood towers and tostadas, grilled seafood (whole turbo is a must!), and don’t sleep on the Camarones “El Ricas.” It’s the messiest dish on the menu, and it’s Chef Fermin’s favorite. It’s mine as well. The wine list rocks, too!

Enjoy Austin! Keep it weird.

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Contact our Wine Guy via email at chris@chrisshepherdconcepts.com.

Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. Last year, he parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that currently operates four Houston restaurants: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger, and Georgia James. The Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed more than $10 million to hospitality workers in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund.

June's All Day
Photo courtesy of June's All Day

June's All Day is one of Chris's favorite spots in Austin.

New summer concert series brings Nashville to Margaritaville Lake Resort

Tunes on the Lake

What's better than enjoying a concert al fresco, a warm summer breeze coming in off the lake while you sip a refreshing beverage and gaze at the sunset?

Not much, and Margaritaville Lake Resort on Lake Conroe knows it. That's why it's debuting the Nashville Nights Summer Concert Series, bringing in a rising star from the contemporary county music world each month from June through September.

Here's the lineup:

Sunday, June 4: Gracee Shriver
A contestant on season 17 of the NBC hit television show The Voice, Shriver was also chosen as part of Oklahoma's "Women of Song Project." Her latest song has even made it onto the Women of Country's Spotify playlists.

Sunday, July 2: Abby Anderson
Anderson has a knack for blending new-age tones and personal, heartfelt storytelling with catchy pop melodies. In 2018, Pandora recognized her as a Country Artist to Watch. That same year, Country Music Television named her to its "18 for 2018" list and "Next Women of Country Class," alongside Ashley McBride.

Sunday, August 6: Chris Ruediger
Although originally from Boston, Ruediger's signature country sound has scored big in Nashville. The legendary Bruce Springsteen and Tim McGraw are influences on his music.

Saturday, September 30: Love and Theft
Stephen Liles and Eric Gunderson have had two top hits, including the No. 1 "Angel Eyes" and No. 10 "Runaway." In addition, the talented duo has garnered more than 3 billion radio impressions, over 300 million plays on Pandora, and is nearing 3 million music video streams for their critically acclaimed "Whiskey on My Breath."

"We are thrilled to have such an outstanding lineup of musical talent ready to perform for our guests as they sit back and claim their personal 'license to chill' this summer," says Tom Faust, the resort's vice president of sales and marketing.

Each concert takes place at 7 pm in Palm Court.

If you'd like to book a room — remember, all the rooms are suites here — to return to after the concert, Margaritaville Lake Resort is offering 30 percent off for all concertgoers. You can lock in that special discount here.

For more information about Nashville Nights and to purchase your tickets, head here.

Margaritaville Lake Resort women with tropical drinks

Photo courtesy of Margaritaville Lake Resort

Grab a tropical cocktail for the concerts.