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AAA Carolinas GO Magazine....


There's something about college towns that's alluring to visitors. It doesn't take a teacher's lecture to learn the many reasons for this allure, including the youthful atmosphere provided by the students, an active cultural calendar that typically stretches beyond campus, and varied accommodations and dining options atering to students, visiting parents, and tourists who love college towns-like Clemson.

Located on the pretty shoreline of Lake Hartwell and in the foothills of the storied Appalachian Mountains, the little college town of Clemson is a tradition-laced Tiger town through and through. However, you don't have to be a bleeding orange Clemson Tigers fan to enjoy this town both on and off campus.

What is now the town of Clemson was actually called Calhoun (which bordered already-established Clemson University) until 1943, when it was renamed to match the adjacent university. The town proper has a population of 10,000 or so, with another 30,000+ added to the diverse mix by the surrounding area. The quaint downtown area is located just north of Clemson's sprawling campus, which also adds more than 17,000 students to the area's population from fall to spring.

There's much to see and it's not all about contemporary higher learning. Clemson was founded way back in 1889, so there is actually much history-and many traditional hotspots-to explore. Historic Fort Hill is a great place to start.

Now engulfed by Clemson's campus (but thankfully preserved), Fort Hill was the plantation estate and home of 19th century South Carolina statesman, John C. Calhoun, and his wife Floride. The property eventually went to their daughter and her husband, Thomas Green Clemson-as in Clemson University. After much restoration, the original house is open to the public every day except University holidays.

Dubbed a place "where nature and culture meet," the South Carolina Botanical Garden is also part of the Clemson campus. Almost 300 acres of natural landscapes, varied display gardens, a nature-based sculpture collection, a 70-acre arboretum, an official American Hosta Society Display Garden, and multiple streams and trails are found here, as is the Bob Campbell Geology Museum.

The University is also home to famed Clemson Blue Cheese. Originally cured in nearby Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel as far back as the early-1940s, Clemson Blue Cheese (40,000+ pounds a year) is now made on-campus at the Agricultural Center in Newman Hall. It can be purchased at the Hendrix Center's East Side Food Court (call 864-656-3663 to check availability) or by mail order (see below).

Because of Clemson's long tradition of places to head for students and visitors, there are several traditional must-sees that will also interest tourists. These have to include: '55 Exchange (a student-run place that makes and sells Clemson's famed ice cream and more); Judge Keller's Store (a three-generation dry goods store at the corner of North College and North Clemson); Mr. Knickerbocker (selling Clemson sportswear and gifts since 1973); The Esso Club (a former Esso station turned popular bar); Nick's Tavern and Deli (the oldest bar in town); Sloan Street Tap-Room (the men's room features a toilet from a former Clemson jail and the bar has orange-cushioned seats from the president's box at Death Valley stadium); and Mac's (get the grilled cheeseburger-trust us!).

While in Clemson, famed Clemson Blue Cheese can typically be purchased at the Hendrix Center's East Side Food Court (call 864-656-3663 to check availability) or by mail order (visit www.campusdish.com). Here are two tasty Clemson Blue Cheese recipes adapted from the website: Clemson Blue Cheese Dressing ¼ cup cream 1 cup dairy sour cream ¾ cup (4 oz.) Clemson Blue Cheese Krumbles ¼ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons chili sauce 1/8 to ¼ minced garlic clove Blend first three ingredients, add last three ingredients, and mix well. Pour in a covered jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. Blue Cheese Dip ¼ cup (about 1 oz.) Clemson Blue Cheese Krumbles 2 cups whipping cream Garlic salt to taste Blend all ingredients and thin with milk or cream, if desired. Store covered and refrigerate.