Travel Illinois: Metropolis
Located along the Ohio River in Massac County, Metropolis is small but mighty when it comes to tourism. The self-proclaimed “Hometown of Superman” has a population of around 6,800 folks and is accessed by Interstate 24 and U.S. Highway 45. (Related: Bill’s BBQ Serves Up a Taste of Metropolis)
The city’s motto is “One Small Town – Many BIG Adventures,” and its quirky Superman personality caught the attention of the Travel Channel in October 2010, when it was featured on an Extreme Towns special that explored some of the most unusual small towns around the world.
Calling All Superman Fans
Superman fans of all ages flock to Metropolis, thanks to its reputation as the “Hometown of Superman.” In truth, the comic book hero was based in a fictional city of Metropolis, but in 1972, the Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution that declared Metropolis Superman’s official hometown.
The city has made the most of its Superman fame, naming streets and buildings after characters from the well-loved comic and erecting a 15-foot, 2-ton bronze Superman statue in the town’s Superman Square. The statue was installed in 1993 at a cost of $120,000, the majority of which was funded by engraved bricks purchased by citizens for $35 apiece. It is a popular photo spot with tourists.
After posing for a picture with Superman, stop in the Super Museum on Market Street. The museum is dedicated to all things Superman and is home to the world’s largest privately owned Superman collection, with original costumes, movie props, toys, posters, action figures and more.
Make plans to visit Metropolis the second weekend in June, and you’ll experience the city’s annual Superman Celebration. Now in its 34th year, the Superman Celebration attracts comic lovers from all over the globe and features guest celebrities from the TV show Smallville, a Superman trivia contest, Artist’s Alley, Man of Steel contests, live music, a carnival and more. Get in on the action by entering the $1,000 Superhero Costume Contest.
The Superman Celebration has been known to nearly quadruple the town’s population, drawing upwards of 25,000 spectators. The 2012 celebration is slated for June 7-10.
Sites to See
Dive into local history with a visit to the Elijah P. Curtis Home. The classic Revival-style, two-story brick home was built by Maj. Elijah P. Curtis after the Civil War and boasts unusual interior woodwork. Located on Market Street one-half block from Superman Square, the home is open for tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and by appointment. (Related: Metropolis Murals)
Love the glamour and glitz of Hollywood? Then don’t miss the Americana Hollywood Museum and Gift Shop located at Third and Ferry streets. It celebrates the Hollywood of yesterday and today, with collections from stars such as Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Angelina Jolie.
Metropolis has an affinity for statues, and there are several sprinkled around town that make fun photo stops. Don’t miss the Noel Neill (posed as Lois Lane) statue two blocks from Superman Square; the George Rogers Clark statue at Fort Massac State Park; Big John, a local grocery icon at the entrance to Fort Massac; and Planet Globe outside the Metropolis Planet Newspaper on Fifth Street. (Related: Living History Weekends at Fort Massac State Park)
Speaking of George Rogers Clark, Metropolis has a trail named in honor of the Revolutionary War hero. Take a scenic bike ride or walk along the George Rogers Clark Discovery Trail, an 8.6-mile path that opened in 2010, linking the cities of Metropolis and Brookport. A large portion of the bicycle and pedestrian trail runs through Fort Massac State Park.
Now That’s Entertainment!
Book a room at Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel, and you’ll think you’re in Las Vegas. The 252-room complex is a one-stop shop for entertainment, with a vibrant casino floor, live shows by big-name entertainers and various restaurants featuring seafood, hand-carved meats and premium steaks.
Wrestling fans gather at Renegade Pro Wrestling on Friday and Saturday nights to watch wrestlers battle it out for a good cause. Located behind El Tequila Mexican Restaurant on East Fifth Street, Renegade Pro Wrestling works with WACA (Wrestlers Against Child Abuse) and donates a portion of admission revenue to charities.
Ever wanted to learn to scuba dive? You can at Mermet Springs, a full-service scuba diving destination on U.S. Highway 45 just north of Metropolis. Mermet Springs offers an on-site dive shop and scuba instruction in an 8.5-acre, spring-fed quarry. It has been featured on the National Geographic Channel and has rare fish species, submerged training platforms, dives from 15 to 120 feet deep and several sunken treasures just waiting to be explored.