Recently, my best friend and traveling companion, VerNessa, and I needed a quick getaway. As it happened, the home of Superman, Metropolis, Illinois, was exactly the right place.
VerNessa has a fascination for tree, and really wants to see the Sequoias. But, hopping in a plane and heading out to California, was not an option. I was searching for some good, alternative trees, when I remembered the amazing Cache River State Natural Area, my family had visited years before. There are amazing, huge, ancient trees there- exactly the kind VerNessa likes.
I am not that big of a tree person, but I do love rivers, AND, I am a great big superhero geek. Putting everything we like together made Metropolis the perfect home base, for both of us to get our nerd fix.
Metropolis sits on the southern border of Illinois, on the Ohio River. Much of the surrounding area is about as backwoods as Illinois gets!
There are numerous natural areas just a short drive away, including Heron Pond Preserve, Section Eight Woods Nature Preserve, and the Cache River State Natural Area. We will feature these preserves in a future story!
In addition there are the Chestnut Hill Nature Preserve, the Horseshoe Lake Nature Preserve, the Mermet Swamp Preserve, the Fort Massac State Park, the Massac Forrest Nature Preserve, and across the Ohio River, the West Kentucky State Wildlife Preserve. For those interested in Native American history, Kincaid Mounds is in the area as well.
Yeah, there are a lot of glorious nature in this area!
Metropolis, and it's neighbor across the water, Paducah, Kentucky, both make excellent base locations for exploring all of these ecologic wonders, when you are not in the mood for camping.
In either location, there is a little bit of city convenience, but easy access to all of the outdoor options.
We spent two nights in Metropolis. The first day we explored several of the preserves, including Heron Pond, Section Eight, and Cache River.
The second day we opted for historical locations, visiting Mound City National Cemetery and Fort Defiance, near Cairo, then we drove into Kentucky to visit the Boomtown roadside attraction.
The last morning, we explored the "other stuff" in Metropolis. We visited the river front at the Dorothy Miller park, with it's tiny lighthouse,. We went to Big John's, and took pictures with the city's "other" famous gigantic statue. We drove by the Metropolis Historical Billboards.
At last, it was time for us two Wonder Women to visit Superman.
We swung by the Metropolis Planet and the Kryptonite "statue." We took some pictures with Lois Lane. We posed about 25 different ways with the Superman statue.
Then it was off to the Superman Museum.
The Super Museum is located at 517 Market Street, in downtown Metropolis.
It is open 9-5 from fall to spring, and 8-7 in the summer.
It cost $5 to enter, and children under 5 are free.
Officially opening in 1993, it features the original collection of Jim Hambrick, and includes over 20,000 items of superman memorabilia, and boasts the only George Reeves costume still in existence.
VerNessa and I pretty much had the museum to ourselves. We bought memorabilia, including tee shirts, buttons and shot glasses, honoring our favorite super heroes.
Then we went inside, and played. We wished there would have been some other visitors at that time, because we definitely would have gotten others involved in our antics.
We decided not to bore you with all 75 photos, but as you can see, we had fun.
Actually, we had a LOT OF FUN.
If you are not interested in the natural areas, or gambling at Harrah's, you may not want to overnight in Metropolis. The Superman sights can all be visited and fully enjoyed in a few hours. Make Metropolis a daytrip, or a stop point on a longer trip. It is not entirely free, but it is pretty low cost.
If you do opt to make Metropolis a base, you will be close to excellent fishing, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, bird-watching and canoeing options, in the wildlife areas, as well as several historic options, such as the National Quilt Museum, in Paducah, Kincaid Mounds, or Fort Massac.
We stayed at the Harrah's hotel. The rooms were comfortable and clean, with sufficient space for us to spread out a bit. The staff was friendly, and there are restaurants attached. Oh, and don't forget, there is a casino also attached. You just might get lucky!
You can make reservations for Harrah's on Booking.com. Use our Booking.com link, and we will get a small commission, which helps us continue sharing fun locations with readers.
For more information about Metropolis, see the city website: http://metropolistourism.com/
For more information about the Superman Museum, or to order memorabilia online, see their website: http://www.supermuseum.com/
Various stories have been written about the history of Metropolis and the relationship with DC Comics, and the failed endeavors to capitalize. Yep, they wanted to build an amusement park, and the plans fell through. I won't go into all of that.
What I will say, is that many other riverfront towns and cities saw their economies crumble as the river transportation industry diminished. Cities such as Cairo, a few miles to the west, fell to a dismal state. Metropolis however, took the good fortune of it's name, and the coincidence of iconic cultural association, and used it to escape a similar fate.
After 10 movies, with at least two more in the works, and several television series, it is clear that America loves Superman. Metropolis continues to invest and build upon that love. The annual Superman festival held in early June brings more visitors each year. As the other attractions increase, the normal tourist visits increase as well.
So, critics can say what they want, because Superman works for Metropolis. Using Metropolis as our home location to explore the natural and historic wonders in southern Illinois, worked for us.
So my advice is, let your inner nerd come out, and visit. A stay, or a day, in Metropolis, is fun!
VerNessa will be one of my traveling companions when we publish live, from the Caribbean in late September. If you would like to get to know her before that, see our Traveling Companions page: My Travel Companions