It happened to Plains, when Jimmy Carter became president and a tiny hamlet in western Georgia became famous as the hometown of a certain peanut farmer.
It happened to Crawford, Texas, when George Bush took the White House and the town closest to his getaway central Texas ranch blossomed with tourists and the businesses that catered to them.
But Honolulu, which already lures millions of tourists each year, is only beginning to see development of tourism tied to Barack Obama, the Hawaii native son who becomes the 44th president of the United States in January.
The sole existing Obama-related tour is a 90-minute stroll through the middle-class neighborhood where Obama spent most of his preteen and teenage years. It's led by Jack Christenson, a quirky septuagenarian who goes by the moniker Uncle Jack.
Christenson, who has long offered tours around town and asks only for donations, said he started his Obama neighborhood excursion a few weeks ago so tourists can go to "the place where it happened. That brings reality to it."
His tour includes a walk past the apartment tower where Obama and his late grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, lived. There also are stops outside Punahou School, where Obama attended from 1971 until high school graduation in 1979, a smaller apartment building where Obama's mother and sister lived briefly, and the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor where he worked.
Besides Uncle Jack, at least two other entrepreneurs are preparing their own for-profit tours. And other established businesses have for months been selling T-shirts festooned with Obama's name or visage.
Obama's legacy here should help promote Hawaii as a tourist destination, said Juanita C. Liu, the interim dean of the School of Travel Industry at the University of Hawaii.
"Hawaii has traditionally been associated with sun, sand, recreation and leisure, and now we have the person in the highest office in the country," she said. "So it gives Hawaii greater credibility as well as visibility."
Liu noted that Hawaii's tourism industry is "currently in a downturn. ... But what I can say is (Obama's presidency) certainly is not going to hurt."
But nothing has occurred in Honolulu akin to the tourists that flocked to and the businesses that sprung up in Crawford, Plains or the Arkansas towns of Hope and Hot Springs, where former President Bill Clinton was born and raised.
Concierge desks at major hotels in Honolulu report few guests asking for directions to the neighborhood where Obama lived. The visitors bureaus for Oahu and Hawaii report only infrequent requests for such information.
Besides the sites where Obama lived or was schooled, there isn't much to see for those curious about his Hawaii history.
There's Sandy Beach, where he surfed as a teenager and swam as a presidential candidate during his vacation last August; the Chowder House restaurant, where a modest window sign advertises that the former senator was a customer, and other similarly ordinary spots.
That is not deterring Mitch Berger, president of Guides of Oahu. He said customers on his company's nature tours have increasingly asked where Obama lived. So he plans to start 2 1/2-hour minibus tours of just Obama-related sites soon.
"I'm continually getting questions on things that shaped the man who is to become our 44th president," he said.
Another effort, to be called Obama Ohana Tour, expects to start up before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, said Dianne Washington-Kay, who along with a friend, Mike Irvine, is developing the business. Ohana is a Hawaiian term that means family.
"If people come here and see why this island produced this kind of individual, that will broaden their view as to why Hawaii is a melting pot," said Washington-Kay, who noted that her family lives a few blocks from Obama's Chicago home.
Further, a local writer, Rob Kay, recently launched a Web site devoted to all things Obama and Hawaii. And just before Thanksgiving, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau unveiled a site highlighting Obama-related locations at http://www.gohawaii.com/obama.
But even a large surge of tourists searching for Obama's childhood hangouts is unlikely to change much about Honolulu, like it did Plains, Hope and Crawford.
In those towns, existing businesses and new shops selling presidential trinkets catered to tourists, gas stations filled up their cars and hotels provided rooms for the night.
"It had a big impact in the beginning," said Marilyn Judy, a school teacher and president of the Crawford Chamber of Commerce. "The tourists came and spent their dollars....Even when the protesters came, they still bought souvenirs and ate in the restaurants."
But Honolulu is a much bigger city, with more than 800,000 residents. Tourists who come here expect a broader experience than just viewing buildings where the president-to-be spent his childhood 30 to 40 years ago. And once Obama-mania fades, Honolulu's enduring tourist attractions will remain.
Not so in Crawford, where Bush-related tourism fell off in recent years. Two gift shops in Crawford have closed and the pace has returned to about where it was before the Bush years, Judy said.
In nearby Waco, tourism business has declined as well, but more the result of gas prices and the recession, said Steve Smith, senior vice president at the Waco Chamber of Commerce.
And so it may be with Obama-related tourism in Honolulu, said Jean Monroe, a Guides of Oahu researcher.
"Whether 20 years from now people are interested in Obama depends entirely on Obama," she said. "As long as people are interested in him, they will want to visit."