Situated in the Appalachian foothills of Georgia, Helen holds a rich history in Native American influence and logging. Today, the town is known for its resurrected Bavarian style and culture. Just an hour and a half from Atlanta, this Alpine German-style town attracts visitors to its famous Oktoberfest and Christmas parades, along with year-round festivities.
But is visiting Helen, Georgia, worth it? It depends on why you’re going and what you expect. Going for an afternoon during peak season is likely to yield crowds and frustration with long lines for an unimpressive trek. Helen is best designed as an overnight or multiday trip from Atlanta where you get out and hike in the foothills and explore the village. Here’s what to see and do on your Helen getaway.
Hiking in Helen is a must. Start your journey at Anna Ruby Falls or nearby Unicoi State Park featuring tumbling waterfalls and hikes, some even suitable with children or dogs. Come during spring or fall to see the gorgeous color to celebrate the season. You can also add on zip lining, archery or water sports to turn your weekend into an adventure.
Habersham Vineyards & Winery
Georgia isn’t exactly known for its wine region, but there are a handful of award-winning wineries like Habersham Winery and Vineyards. Open since 1983, Habersham is one of the state’s oldest and largest wineries. A tasting room features gourmet foods, specialty wine items, imported cheese and picnic fare to take with you.
Dukes Creek Gold & Ruby Mines
Try your luck at Dukes Creek Gold & Ruby Mines and hunt for gold. Guest are invited to either look for gold or grab a gemstone bucket for a chance at finding rare earth gems like rubies, sapphires, emeralds and more. Family-owned and operated for more than 50years, the owners said they found so much gold and gems in the mine they decided to allow the public to pan for it right in the river.
Explore Downtown Helen
For an upscale stay in Helen, book a room at the Valhalla Resort Hotel for rooftop views from the Skybar and “farm to fork” dishes with local ingredients and wines. Then head downtown to Helen’s Nacoochee Village and stop under the quaint bridge for German-inspired fare at The Troll Tavern. For river views, try Cafe International for dinner. Before you leave, shop for keepsakes at Nora Mill Granary, the Village Peddler or Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen for Alpine-inspired home decor and treats.
The more you travel, the more you learn about what works for you in terms of packing, preparing, lodging, locations and more, so it’s inevitable you’ll develop your own cache of travel tips likely to result in the most enjoyable experience for you. But when it comes to the broader travel community, there are some tips and tricks that can apply to any traveler. Here are a few that can help you progress toward expert travel status.
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