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Animated Illinois

Is it art imitating life, or life imitating art? However you feel on that topic, everybody could use a hero every now and again, so why not check out a couple of famous fearless faces while you're in Illinois? Start in Metropolis (www.metropolischamber.com), the real city of the fictional character, Superman. Take a stroll by the statue of a costumed Clark Kent, check out the Metropolis Planet newspaper, and head on over to the Super Museum, 517 Market St. (tel. 618/524-5518; www.supermuseum.com) to see the original costume worn by the first actor to portray the comic-book hero, George Reeves, as well as tons of other Super-memorabilia.

Although he can't fly like the red-caped hero above, the comic-strip legacy of Dick Tracy and his bright yellow coat and cap, steely jaw, and tales of crime-stopping are housed in The Chester Gould-Dick Tracy Museum (tel. 815/338-8281; www.chestergould.org), in the stately old brick courthouse in the town of Woodstock. Here, you can see original artwork, photos, and even the chair and drawing table where Chester Gould created his handsome do-gooder, as well as the Crimestopper Club Room, a wing of the museum where kids can get hands-on with tools of forensic science as well as practice drawing techniques.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.