Places that presidents call home often become major tourist attractions, from estates at Mount Vernon and Monticello, to Hodgenville, Ky., where Abe Lincoln's log cabin once stood, to Bill Clinton's boyhood home in Hope, Ark.
So what's the equivalent of Barack Obama's log cabin? Probably a 10th-floor apartment in Honolulu where he lived with his mother and grandparents. But to see all the places connected to Obama's life story, you'd have to visit three countries, six time zones and six states. Obama grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia, has roots in Kansas and Kenya, and went to school in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. He and his wife have raised their girls in Chicago, where tourists are already seeking out Obama haunts.
"Why do we make pilgrimages to the homes of presidents? Because these homes are the closest thing we have to secular shrines. We go there to worship ourselves and the idea of America," explained Rick Shenkman, a presidential historian at George Mason University in Virginia and editor of the online History News Network.
Shenkman said that presidents who grow up in humble circumstances -- including modest childhood homes -- add to the American dream that anybody can be president.
"In fact, very few presidents are born poor," Shenkman said. "Obama happens to fit the bill."
Obama has said that his unusual life story "spans miles and generations, races and realities." Here are some places to keep in mind if you want to create your own Obama Tour.
Roots: Kenya and Kansas
Obama's late father was from Kogelo, a village in western Kenya. Obama's half-brother, step-grandmother and other relatives still live there. The family homestead consists of three compounds made up of stone houses, banana trees, a field of maize and other crops. Obama's picture can be seen adorning billboards and buses all over Kenya; a national holiday was declared after his election.
To reach Kogelo, you fly from Nairobi to Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria, then drive an hour to the village, partly on a rough dirt road. So far, the only tourists who have made it there are journalists.
Obama also has roots in Kansas, where his late mother, Stanley Ann, was born. His maternal grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, grew up in Augusta, near Wichita. His grandfather, Stanley Dunham, grew up in El Dorado, where Obama made a campaign stop in January.
Obama was born in Honolulu and lived with his mother and grandparents in a 10th-floor two-bedroom apartment at 1617 S. Beretania St. He visited his grandmother there during the campaign; she died shortly before Election Day.
Obama's mother married an Indonesian and in 1967, they moved to Jakarta. Obama's sister Maya was born there. They lived first in a humble home on Haji Ramli Tengah Street with chickens and ducks in the backyard, and later in a Dutch colonial-style house in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Jakarta on Taman Amir Hamza Street, which is virtually unchanged three decades later. Obama first attended a Catholic school, Franciscus Assisi Elementary, and later a state-run secular school, Menteng 1 Elementary.