This is Metropolis, the only city in the United States named such and, thus, the de facto home of Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and other characters who have come to life in DC comic books and on screens big and small for more than 75 years.
This is the home of Superman. If you have any doubts about its authenticity, take it up with the 15-foot-tall Man of Steel in the town square.
Superheroes and some of our imaginations’ greatest fictional characters converge on Metropolis, population 6,500, the second weekend in June (12-15, in 2014) to fight crime and compare notes on the evil doings of underworld characters. The annual Superman Festival, an event since the 1980s, is a place of fantasies and festivities that draws nearly 40,000 people.
Each year, stars of some of the most recent Superman movies appear for autographs and Q&A sessions with fans. From Lex Luthor’s girlfriend (Valerie Perrine) to Baby Clark Kent (Aaron Smolinski) to the artists and writers who bring Superman to life, they all come to Metropolis to celebrate Superman fans.
This is not your typical comic book convention, where people take the fun a bit too seriously. It’s a family-friendly, 4-day event where even the dogs dress up as superheroes.
Don’t think you can wait until the last minute to grab a pair of tights and a red cape from a local costume store. Those who dress for the occasion, and many do, take pride in sewing their own costumes, bragging about details that only true fans would appreciate.
Between the Fan Film Festival, which has up to 25 entries a year, and the various costumed character contests, which offer up to $1,000 in prize money, there are plenty of reasons to go.
Otherwise, stop in any day for a selfie with the Man of Steel. He’s waiting for you in the middle of town.
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, and an officer in the Society of American Travel Writers, Diana loves the Midwest and all things quirky and unusual about our world. Follow her on Twitter at @Mojotraveler.
MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS
9) Be Superman in Metropolis, Illinois