Last updated: 02:33 PM ET, Fri February 19 2016

8 Things to Do in South Carolina While Following the Candidates

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | February 11, 2016

8 Things to Do in South Carolina While Following the Candidates

PHOTO: South of the Border in South Carolina gets Trumped thanks to Photoshop. (Donald Trump photo courtesy of Thinkstock. Photo illustration by Barry Kaufman)

Tourism in New Hampshire and Iowa got a boost from travelers visiting to meet, follow and in some cases grill the presidential candidates. Now a staple in early presidential politics, the political tourist is traveling farther afield and into states later in the primary schedule. For fear the political process will be over in their states, many people head to these early voting states when they catch election fever. So if you are on the election super highway, here’s what to do in the great state of South Carolina.

Soak in the River Town Grandeur of Bluffton

Nestled between the legendary golf links of Hilton Head Island and the world-class luxury of Montage Resorts’ Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton is a riverside town bustling with Southern hospitality. Take a dip in the May River (watch for dolphins) explore the antebellum charm of Old Town or fill your belly with some Lowcountry boil or Bluffton’s signature May River oysters. Life in Bluffton moves at golf cart speed, unhurried as the tides on the river that defines it – which is why you should keep an eye out for Ben Carson.

Discover Gullah History on Hilton Head

If you like Bernie Sanders, who political pundits keep saying needs help connecting with minorities, you may want to connect with Gullah History in Hilton Head. The Gullah culture survived on the semi-isolated islands of Hilton Head and Daufuskie, where Western Africans were able to preserve their languages, dialects and traditions. Today, it is home to Gullah Heritage Tours, which bring visitors through traditional neighborhoods and off-the-beaten-path historical sites to give guests a unique opportunity to connect with the authentic culture of the Sea Islands.

Meet EDDIE at the EdVenture Children’s Museum

Hitting the primaries with the family in tow? How Marco Rubio of you (shouldn’t those kids be in school?). If you bring the kids all the way to Columbia, S.C., be sure to check out EdVenture Children’s Museum, the South’s largest children’s museum with 300 exhibits and the world’s largest child – EDDIE. Kids can crawl through this 40-foot-tall kid, who is 35,000 pounds and half the size of an adult humpback whale, to learn about how the body works. Visit on Family Night (the second Tuesday of each month) for admission of just $1 per person, and who knows, during campaign season you may just bump into those Rubio kids running through EDDIE’s intestinal tract.

READ MORE: Myrtle Beach — More than Just the Best Golf Destination in the South

History Comes Alive in Charleston

Charleston is a Carolina classic and Clinton is a classic on the campaign trail, which is why you may find her rallying the troops in one of the city’s classic pre-Civil War-era homes or on the grounds of Fort Sumter. Clinton might need a fleet of vehicles to get around but all you’ll need is a bicycle or your own two feet to stroll through the city’s historical boroughs. In addition to being on the campaign trail, the city also tops the list of best places to go in 2016 in Travel + Leisure.

Heat Up Your Day With the Carolina Reaper

If you are like Jeb! And you are looking to spice things up on the campaign trail, you may want to get to know the Carolina Reaper, said to be the hottest pepper on earth. The peppers have scorched the tongues of a CBS Radio team and the Daily Meal says these will take you to “chili pepper hell.” But for those who are brave enough to bite into one, head to the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, S.C.

See Why Tourism in Greenville Is Surging

According to tourism leaders, Greenville has become a weekend destination and its restaurant scene is driving travelers into the city. The destination is surging in a state where tourist destinations were hit hard during the recession. Don’t be surprised if you find John Kasich campaigning there; he’s also surging to the top of the GOP list after the New Hampshire primaries.

READ MORE: South Carolina Tourism on the Rise

Get to Know South Carolina’s Spiritual Side

If you want to get in touch with your spiritual side in South Carolina, you may think of visiting The Spirit of Old Beaufort in Beaufort, S.C. It’s probably not exactly what the current GOP’s spiritual front-runner Ted Cruz would have in mind, but it’s definitely a way to get spooked in style. The ghost van tour explores the dark history of Beaufort and its surrounding islands and stops at an abandoned fort, a slave cemetery and the ruins of an old church. 

A Little Bit of Carolina Kitsch

It’s one of I-95’s most well-promoted — and kitschy — roadside attractions, with hundreds of miles of billboards lining the highway, practically taunting you to pull off the road and head to South of the Border, which is just one of the reasons you may find Donald Trump holding court here. Even if there are no political rallies on the docket, be sure to stop here for to check out the miniature golf, amusement rides, the reptile zoo – and the sombrero-shaped observation deck.   

Managing editor Barry Kaufman contributed to this report. 

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