Halloween is practically here, and what better way to get into the spirit than exploring destinations that house some of the most heart-pounding urban legends in the United States? Folklore tales have become deeply rooted in many communities, sometimes leading to a celebration of these creepy creatures—festivals, statues, museums, you name it. So pop some corn and binge out on Small Town Monsters documentaries before planning the ultimate Monster Quest-style road trip around the United States.
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Flatwoods Monster - Flatwoods, West Virginia (Nearby Hotels)
Named after the town in which it dwells, the Flatwoods Monster, also referred to as the Braxton County Monster made its debut in the 50s. Originally spotted airborne, the alien-like figure was described as having a blood-red face, pointed, an “ace of spades” head and a green body emanating a smelly mist. When entering the West Virginia Town, a sign with a drawing of the phantom and the phrase “Welcome to Flatwoods / Home of the Green Monster”, greets motorists. The Flatwood Days festival annually celebrates the legend with music, food and crafts. Of course, there’s also a museum and a scavenger hunt where tourists locate five Monster shaped chairs at various landmarks.
Champ - Plattsburgh, New York (Nearby Hotels)
In glacial Lake Champlain, which sets in a valley between the Green Mountains of Vermont, and New York’s Adirondack range resides Ol’ Champ. Abenaki and Iroquois native Americans were among the first to allegedly spot the water serpent with silver scales mimicking armor, and a double row of sharp teeth. The hope of seeing Champ lure visitors to the stunning 126 stretch of water, which also tips into Canada. The historic Crown Point Bridge, a Lighthouse from the Revolutionary War, a 350-mile biking trail that loops around the lake, fishing and a list of other fun stuff might also be reasons people love Champlain so much.
Loveland Frog - Loveland, Ohio (Nearby Hotels)
It’s time for a lighter-hearted one—outlandish frogs that wield wands and walk around like humans. Most recent sightings occurred in August 2016 while a group of kids were out playing Pokémon Go. Loveland is a lovely place to visit if the thought of humanoid frogs isn’t off-putting—river kayaking, beautiful bike trails and a list of parks definitely help us understand why these curious amphibians might choose to live here. Considered as an extended portion of Cincinnati, travelers don’t have to go far for great food and accommodations.
Sharlie - McCall, Idaho (Nearby Hotels)
Idaho is home to many aquatic monster legends, some horrifying and some just kind of cute and exciting. Sharlie is a sea serpent rumored to live in McCall’s pristine Payette Lake, somewhat reminiscent of the Loch Ness Monster. When in the cozy town, you have to visit the McCall Pancake House!
Jersey Devil - Hammonton, New Jersey (Nearby Hotels)
People must like the Jersey Devil in some way because memorabilia designed after the eerie abomination is abundant—New Jersey’s NHL hockey team even derived its name from the monster. Unidentifiable tracks similar to those of a large bird, while some note the imprints are cloven, have sparked suspicion that devil lurks about. You’ll know if you see it because it’s described as a crazy looking thing with a diverse accumulation of features like a dog/horse face, kangaroo body, tough, thick wings, scary antler horns and some reptilian traits—yikes. Brave souls have ventured into the Pine Barrens, near the Hampton Furnace, at night for a spooky camping trip, only to be scared stiff by eerie foggy swamps and shrill sounds in the darkness. Hammonton has plenty of hotels if you’d rather skip sleeping in the woods, cause there’s no shame in that!
Beast of Bray Road - Elkhorn, Wisconsin (Nearby Hotels)
Within the outskirts of Elkhorn, Wisconsin on Bray Road resides a beast who was reported to be seen in the 80s and 90s. Rumored to have the likeness of a werewolf, or a Bigfoot-bear hybrid, only the bold hope to see it. The Asylum, a 2005 film, depicts a search for the monster.
Thunderbirds - St. Louis, Missouri (Nearby Hotels)
Mammoth Pterodactyl-like birds with wingspans up to 18 feet and huge thick teeth terrorized St. Louis in the 70s. Fall is a fitting time to visit, thanks to massive markets, art fairs, beer festivals, haunted houses and numerous other gatherings. Nearby is the Gateway Arch, which is the world’s tallest arch marker. Explore Gateway Arch National Park, ride to the top for the best view of the city, and possibly get an even better glimpse of the Thunderbirds.
Wendigo - Roseau, Minnesota (Nearby Hotels)
Not human nor completely monster, the Wendigo has been described as an embodiment of insatiable greed, gluttony and other taboo traits. Nasty, gaunt and gravely, the Wendigo supposedly dwells in the frigid north Minnesota forest, particularly Roseau. Roseau is the home of Polaris, so naturally, there’s a factory tour and experience center where you can learn about snowmobile and ATV history. Other than the Wendigo sightings, it’s a peaceful small town with pretty parks.
Altie - Brunswick, Georgia (Nearby Hotels)
Altamaha-ha, or Altie, is a monster thought to dwell within south Georgia’s Altamaha River, deriving its name from the stream. Housing many rare species, more than any other river in the state, it makes sense that Altie could be one of them. The Muskogee Creek Tribe acknowledged it had front flippers or fins, but no legs, taking more after a large snake or fish. But it’s the creatures alligator mouth and 20-40 foot long body that instills an uneasy feeling, but locals insist he’s a friendly little fella. The Altamaha dumps into the ocean near Brunswick, Georgia, where visitors can explore stunning Victorian architecture.
Chupacabra - Lubbock, Texas (Nearby Hotels)
The name means “goat-sucker”, and the tale of its existence originated in Puerto Rico. The vicious thing reportedly has a dino-like spine trailing down its back but is about the size of a small bear. This vampire who targets livestock gets around because sightings have been reported from Maine, Mississippi, to Texas. Witnesses claim to have seen the Chupacabra in West Texas, particularly areas around Lubbock. Sure, many have debunked rumors by assuring us that coyotes and other similar animals were mistaken for something else, but how can we really know for sure? Lubbock conveniently has some interesting Buddy Holly related stuff to do if you don’t get a glimpse of a Chupacabra, and the High Planes have a great wine scene. McPherson Cellars Winery, Llano Estacado Winery and CapRock Winery are among the top ranking in selections and taste—wine and Chupacabra hunting, that’s a vacation.
Mothman - Point Pleasant, West Virginia (Nearby Hotels)
Point Pleasant West Virginia is famous for sightings of a flying moth-like man, during the 1960’s, around the time of the Silver Bridge collapse. The red-eyed, winged being is thought to have come to warn people of the impending tragedy. Now, the Silver Memorial Bridge spans over the Ohio River in replacement. Since then, the town has embraced Mothman—The Mothman Museum and Research Center and a 12-foot metal statue further commemorate the legend. On the third weekend of September, the Annual Mothman Festival brings artists and food vendors who deliver treats and creations inspired by him.
Fouke Monster - Fouke, Arkansas (Nearby Hotels)
Reportedly spotted near the Boggy Creek area of Arkansas in the 1970s, the Fouke Monster is thought to be a Bigfoot-like beast who wreaked havoc on livestock and locals. The iconic creature was most famously depicted in the documentary-style horror flick, The Legend of Boggy Creek, directed by Charles B. Pierce, which is being restored and re-released in theatres via the efforts of his daughter Pamula Pierce Barcelou. Watch the movie before making the treck to Fouke, and no trip there is complete without stopping to look at artifacts and pick up themed goodies at the Monster Mart.