Downtown Helen, Georgia

Downtown Helen, Georgia

Guide to Helen

Visit this Bavarian-style town in North Georgia for outdoor adventures, fantastic festivals and tons of family fun. Here are some quick tips for things to do and places to see in alpine Helen.

The alpine town of Helen takes its inspiration from the villages of Germany, complete with the building style of downtown shops and restaurants. But it's also in the heart of northeast Georgia, offering travelers outdoor sports like tubing and hiking, along with wine tasting at the many vineyards nearby. The area has both Native American history and an arts community in nearby Sautee Nacoochee.

Scroll down to find some of the top things to do, places to stay, places to eat and events in Helen.


Things to Do

Tubing in Helen, Georgia
Tubing in Helen, Georgia


During the warmer months, typically May to September, spend the day floating down the river with outfitters like Helen Tubing & Waterpark and Cool River Tubing, which drop you off and pick you up. They also offer changing rooms, showers, picnic areas and parking.

Scenic view of Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia
Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Anna Ruby Falls

Although there are many waterfalls nearby, Anna Ruby Falls is perhaps the most visitor-friendly, accessed by a paved trail. It’s named for Anna Ruby Nichols and is actually made up of two waterfalls.

Mind Escapes

Mind Escapes is a themed escape room with masterful games for all ages. One room features Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, while another is about a mysterious cabin in the woods.

Woman on a zipline in Helen, Georgia
Nacoochee Adventures in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @kaaaaaaty

Zip lining

Zip lining is another popular activity, which you can experience with Nacoochee Adventures and American Adventure Park at Unicoi State Park. Multiple courses wind through the surrounding Chattahoochee National Forest.

Alpine Fun Factory

Rainy days no longer mean ruined days at Alpine Fun Factory, an all-in-one attraction with go karts, laser tag, arcade games, and a seasonal Halloween haunted house.

Colorful carts parked in front of Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen, Georgia
Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Georgia Mountain Coaster

Settle into a cart on the Georgia Mountain Coaster, an alpine rollercoaster where you control the speed — leave the brake off to hit up to 28 miles per hour.

Outpost Gold & Gem Mining Co.

Pan for gold like early prospectors did in the former logging town at Outpost Gold & Gem Mining Co., where you might just strike it rich. The family attraction has buckets filled with concentrated gold and precious gems like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.

Child on the front lawn of BabyLand General in Cleveland, Georgia
BabyLand General in Cleveland, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

BabyLand General Hospital

In nearby Cleveland, native Xavier Roberts founded the Cabbage Patch Dolls brand. Today, visitors can see where they are “born” at the BabyLand General Hospital, equal parts museum and store. Admission is free and celebrity photos cover the walls.

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Places to Stay

Aerial view of Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia
Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia

Valhalla Resort Hotel

The Valhalla Resort Hotel is Helen’s most luxurious stay with a rooftop bar, in-house spa, golf facilities, and world-class dining. There's also 24-hour room service.

Biscuit Inn

The pet-friendly Biscuit Inn is only four miles north of town and has dog-themed rooms with bone-shaped dog beds, dog bowls and gourmet dog biscuits. Human guests have fridges, microwaves and televisions in their rooms.

Sign and windmill at Heidi Motel in Helen, Georgia
Heidi Motel in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

The Heidi Motel & Windmill Suites

The Heidi Motel & Windmill Suites takes its alpine theme seriously, with a unique windmill suite, fireplaces and private patios.

Unicoi State Park & Lodge

Choose from multiple accommodation types at Unicoi State Park & Lodge, including lodge hotel rooms, pet-friendly cabins, backcountry campsites, and cabins made from former wine barrels.


Groups and couples can stay at Helen's rental cabins with companies like Cabin Rentals of Helen, Georgia Mountain Rentals and Pinnacle Cabin Rentals. Some have hot tubs and others have full kitchens.

Helendorf River Inn

Located along the Chattahoochee River, the Helendorf River Inn has riverfront rooms with private balconies, fireplaces, kitchens and Jacuzzis. There's also a heated pool and parking for RVs and motor coaches.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites has amenities for both business and leisure travelers, including an unrivaled location. Rooms have Jacuzzis, Keurig coffee makers, and fiber optic WiFi.

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Where to Eat

Bakery case at Hofer's of Helen
Bakery case at Hofer's of Helen

Hofer's of Helen

The baked goods and deli sandwiches at award-winning Hofer’s of Helen Bakery and Cafe make it a favorite in town for taking to-go before a hike or staying to savor.

Bodensee Restaurant

For authentic German fare, there's nowhere better than Bodensee Restaurant, which carries German beers and wines as well as spaetzle, goulash and wursts.

Bigg Daddy's

Bigg Daddy's appeals to just about everyone, with kids' menus and an extensive craft beer menu with a focus on local breweries. They play all the major sporting events on the big screen TVs and have weekly live music.

Sky Bar at Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia
Sky Bar at Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia

Valhalla Resort Hotel

The Caledonia Room and Sky Bar at the Valhalla Resort Hotel offers “farm to fork” dishes using local ingredients, paired with local wines. Special menus can be prepared for dietary restrictions as well as multi-course dinners for special occasions.

The Troll Tavern

Set under the bridge just like the storybook troll, The Troll Tavern specializes in German-style fare as well as salads, sandwiches, seafood, and soups.

Cafe International

Sit outside at Cafe International for a meal overlooking the river. The restaurant is known for its sandwiches, especially “The Best Reuben Ever,” along with German-inspired dishes and daily specials.

Cowboys & Angels

Cowboys & Angels is Helen's riverside steakhouse with a touch of Southern hospitality. Menu favorites include lobster tails, fried chicken, and New York strips.

Paul's Steakhouse

Another carnivore favorite, Paul's Steakhouse, has specials every night, from country-fried steak to prime rib to catfish.

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Christmas tree and holiday lights in Helen, Georgia
Helen, Georgia, at Christmas


Fall and winter are the best times to explore the alpine village. Helen is best known for its annual Oktoberfest festivities, when revelers dress in traditional attire, lederhosen and dirndls, while dancing to the polka and enjoying German food and drinks. Celebrate the start of Oktoberfest with a parade at noon on Sept. 7, 2024, in downtown Helen. Helen’s Oktoberfest runs from Thursday to Sunday through September and daily from Sept. 26 to Oct. 27, 2024.

Winterfest Art Tour

The Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center is one of the organizers of the Winterfest Art Tour, an event made up of 145 artists spread over three locations with crafts, demonstrations and prizes.

Holiday Events

The holidays kick off with the Lighting of the Village event, which includes appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, musical performances and the lighting of the town. Helen's Downtown Christmas Parade is in early December. The annual Christkindlmarkt is held at the Marketplatz, featuring Christmas gifts and decorations as well as sweet treats and drinks. Then, ring in the new year with the Dropping of the Edelweiss New Year's Eve Celebration, featuring hors d'oeuvres, party favors and midnight champagne toast.

Helen to Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race
Helen to Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race

Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival

The oldest balloon event in the region, Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival, is part race and part showcase of the colorful balloons every summer.

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Published: March 2024
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