America's Creepiest Monsters and Where to Find Them

Whether you're a demon hunter or a dark tourism enthusiast, there are plenty of demons, cryptids, and other monstrous entities waiting to be discovered in the misty forests and gloomy lakes of the USA.

America: land of the free, and home of the...cryptid? The United States is home to a surprising number of spooky, monstrous creatures, many stemming from legends that date back to ancient times.

Why do we cling to our folk monsters, reviving them again and again just as they threaten to slip into obscurity? Some propose that these creatures are manifestations of human fears; others propose that they're externalizations of our own demons; and still others insist that Bigfoot is absolutely real, and they've seen him for themselves.There are many reasons why these creatures have continued to live on in our subconscious minds, but one thing is certain: They're not going anywhere. Sometimes they're nothing more than fodder for campfire legends, and sometimes they're little prickles of unease when walking by a forest at night, but even if you're a staunch realist, it's sometimes hard to shake off/lean away from the haunting legends that gnaw at the seams of our reality.

If you're a demon hunter (or are just looking to get yourself into big trouble with malevolent spirits), here's a handy list of five all-American monsters—and where to find them.

1. West Virginia: Mothman

The Mothman was first sighted in 1966, when five men digging a grave in a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia spotted a creature that was not quite a bird and not quite a man but that was definitely flying over their heads.

Since then, there have been several sightings of a "man with ten-foot wings" in these parts of West Virginia, which are now known as the "TNT area." During World War II, this area was home to a manufacturing camp that kept explosives in underground bunkers; afterwards, it was abandoned.

Aside from the Mothman, there have been several other odd reports coming from this part of West Virginia, including stories of UFOs and premonitions of the collapse of the Silver Bridge. If you visit the TNT area yourself, perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of some of these mysterious things; or, perhaps you'll be confronted by a different kind of monster—the ongoing traumas and legacies of war.

Image via K102.5

2. New Jersey: The Jersey Devil

If you're in the business of seeking out terrifying thrills, New Jersey's Pine Barrens is a worthwhile destination in and of itself. The Pine Barrens is a 1.1 million square mile area of forest. Once, the area was home to bustling manufacturing towns; but now, the majority of those towns have been abandoned, and the land remains empty.

Or is it? Not according to folklore, which tells of a variety of spooks and spirits out there in the pines, the most famous of which is the Jersey Devil. According to legend, a Pines resident called Mother Leeds gave birth to her thirteenth child in 1735—a child that, moments after its birth, sprouted wings, horns, and talons, and tore its midwives to pieces.

Throughout the next two hundred years, the Jersey Devil was spotted occasionally in the Pine Barrens region, and many heard terrifying wails echoing from the bogs and underbrush. Today, many still believe that the Devil walks today, and many have claimed they've spotted him there. To find the Jersey Devil, take Route 9 through the Pine Barrens of New Jersey; just make sure you're not out too late at night.

Image via Holy Synergia

3. Alaska: The Urayuli

Far up north, among the ice and snow, you might find yourself face to face with a ten-foot-tall man covered in thick hair. Don't worry, though: These creatures are actually peaceful. Legend has it that these men are transformed children who were lost in the night.

The Urayuli is an iteration of the Yeti, a lumbering giant that originated in the hills of the Himalayas. The earliest reports of the Yeti come from the 12th century, and they persist right up to modern times. To see for yourself, check out the forests surrounding Ketchikan, where reports of hairy, ghostly men are regular among wide-eyed tourists and townsfolk alike.

Image via Bigfoot

4. California: Fresno Nightcrawlers

While Fresno may not be top on your list of California destinations, maybe it should be first on your list of demon-hunting spots. That's because it's the only place where you can see a demon known as the "Nightcrawler." These little ghouls were first caught on camera in 2007, and interestingly, though most video evidence of paranormal activity can be easily disproved, experts have admitted that it would be hard to fake these cryptids.

After a few more cameras captured glimpses of these spindly creatures, several Native American tribes noted their resemblance to certain wood carvings and myths. According to some modern legends, these cryptids are ancient swamp beings that have existed on earth since the dawn of time; and some myths propose that these beings are making themselves known publicly because they want to make peace with humankind.

Image via the Fresno Bee

5. Wampus Cat

This peculiar feline has been spotted in northeastern Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and specifically, at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Several students of the university have reported that an oddly humanoid catlike creature has attacked them in the night.

According to legend, the golden-eyed, half-dog, half-cat lurks in Knoxville's sewers, emerging to terrorize citizens before retreating back into its putrid hideaway. There are several origin stories surrounding this gigantic monster. One Cherokee legend proposes that a woman donned the skin of a mountain lion in order to spy on her husband while hunting. They discovered her and, as a punishment, she was forced to wear the lion's skin eternally.

Image via Deviantart

These are just five of the most fascinating American monsters, but check out the maps below if you want to plan out a full-on cross-country road trip.

Image via Laughing Squid

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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.


Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).


Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!

Travel

So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—Workaway.info.

Workaway Workaway


Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).

Workaway WoIsango.com

You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway


Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker