Residents of Atlanta have a wealth of travel options within Georgia, many of which can be reached by car. Among these destinations, Helen, a mountain town in northeast Georgia, beckons to families, beer aficionados, and couples throughout the year. With its Bavarian-inspired ambiance and array of water activities, Helen proves that beach vacations aren’t the only way to have fun in the summer. If you’re not yet convinced, here are some conviencing reasons to consider a visit to Helen, Georgia.
Experience German Flavors Right in Georgia
One of Helen’s most captivating features is its uncanny resemblance to a Bavarian Alpine village in Germany. In the late 20th century, the town was transformed to infuse North Georgia with a touch of German charm. Beyond its picturesque appearance, Helen’s European influence extends to its culinary scene. The town is home to several establishments that offer an authentic German dining experience, such as The Heidelberg German Restaurant, The Troll Tavern & Restaurant, Bodensee, Hofer’s Bakery and Cafe, Hofbrauhaus Restaurant & Pub, Cafe International, and Village Crepe Haus. For those who prefer familiar flavors, Helen also boasts venues serving Southern and American favorites, including Cowboys & Angels, Paul’s Steakhouse, Bigg Daddys Restaurant & Tavern, and Nacoochee Village Tavern & Pizzeria.
Explore Nature and History while Breathing in Fresh Air
Apart from its culinary delights, Helen offers stunning nature trails and historical landmarks for visitors to discover. The ADA-accessible Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail is a scenic one-mile path connecting the Hardman Farm State Historic Site and Alpine Helen. Smithgall Woods State Park and Raven Cliffs Trailhead provide additional tranquil hiking options nearby. History enthusiasts can visit the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound and Stovall Mill Covered Bridge, while nature lovers can venture to Brasstown Bald—the highest point in Georgia—and Tallulah Gorge State Park, both within 30 miles of Helen. If you’re short on time, don’t miss Anna Ruby Falls. Choose between a beginner-friendly 0.4-mile trail or a challenging 4.6-mile hike to the waterfalls’ base, where you’ll be captivated by the stunning twin falls.
Relax in a Mountain Cabin
Summer vacations often conjure images of beach resorts or lakeside villas, but a mountain retreat can be equally rejuvenating, thanks to Helen’s variety of cabin rentals. Platforms like Cabin Rentals of Helen, Georgia Mountain Rentals, and Pinnacle Cabin Rentals offer a range of accommodations in the Appalachian Mountains. Bear Creek Lodge and Cabins provide an exceptional selection, from cozy treehouse cabins for five to riverside cabins perfect for fishing enthusiasts. The area also boasts impressive Airbnb options, so whether you seek a romantic cabin nestled six miles from Helen or a Bavarian-style condo within walking distance of downtown, you’ll have plenty of fantastic lodging choices to consider.
Experience Thrilling High-Altitude Activities
While Helen offers relaxation and tranquility, it also provides exhilarating and heart-pumping activities. Adrenaline junkies who frequent theme parks will be delighted by Helen’s Georgia Mountain Coaster, a compact yet electrifying self-controlled rollercoaster. To cool off, splash around at Helen Tubing & Waterpark or float down the Chattahoochee River with Cool River Tubing. For strong swimmers seeking a more intense adventure, Wildwater Rafting offers white water rafting trips down the Chattooga River. If you prefer to stay dry while having a blast, try ziplining at Nacoochee Adventures or Unicoi Zipline & Aerial Adventure Park, and explore the Alpine Fun Factory‘s indoor go-karts, laser tag, arcade, and skating rink.
Immerse Yourself in Downtown Helen’s Bavarian Ambiance
Helen’s enchanting Alpine aesthetic is a significant draw, so be sure to explore downtown when you’re not soaring through the sky or tubing down the river. Attractions like Alpine Mini Golf, Outpost Gold & Gem Mining Co., and Helen Arts & Heritage Center cater to visitors of all ages. Downtown Helen also boasts an array of shops to peruse, such as The Glassblowing Shop, Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen, and Nacoochee Village Antique Mall.
Discover Nearby North Georgia Towns and Attractions
A visit to Helen places you within easy reach of numerous natural landmarks and must-see towns in northeast Georgia. If you have time and are willing to travel for 30-45 minutes, there’s plenty to explore in the surrounding area. Hiawassee, about 21 miles north, is home to High Shoals Falls, Hiawassee Antique Mall, and Hightower Creek Vineyards. Near the Georgia-South Carolina border, you can marvel at Toccoa Falls—the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Mississippi. Within 30 miles of Helen, you’ll find Dahlonega and Blairsville, where you can enjoy wineries or indulge in peaceful outdoor recreation.
Savor Local Breweries and Wineries
For a spirited Helen experience, take advantage of the numerous wineries, breweries, vineyards, and bars. Start by sipping a drink at the Valhalla Resort Hotel Sky Bar, a near-essential Helen activity. The family-owned Sweet Acre Farms Winery Tasting Room is a local favorite, while the Unicoi Wine Trail offers a more extensive wine-tasting experience featuring six locally owned vineyards and wineries. For beer lovers, Alpine Brew Deck and Tantrum Brewing Company are must-visit destinations.
Step Back in Time at Nora Mill Granary
Nora Mill Granary, a historic gristmill, still produces flour and grits using traditional methods. Established in 1876 by gold prospector John Martin, the mill was later purchased by Lamartine G. Hardman, a future Georgia governor, who named it in honor of his sister. Nora Mill provides a glimpse into past technology, with its unique use of a turbine instead of a water wheel.
At Nora Mills, visitors can sample stone-milled flour and learn about its production. The store offers kitchen supplies, Southern souvenirs, and fish food for the Chattahoochee River’s aquatic residents.
Additional Attractions in the Area
Beyond Helen‘s immediate surroundings, there are more attractions worth exploring. The Chattahoochee National Forest, with over 750,000 acres of protected land, offers opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and picnicking. Nearby, the Appalachian Trail, which spans 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine, provides unparalleled hiking and backpacking experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. The North Georgia mountains are also home to picturesque waterfalls, such as Amicalola Falls and DeSoto Falls, perfect for scenic hikes and day trips.