Hot air balloons over Helen, Georgia

Hot air balloons over Helen, Georgia. Photo by David Bristol

Best Things to Do in Helen this Spring

Experience Alpine Helen this spring with these outdoor adventures, exciting events, and great places to eat, drink, and stay.

The Bavarian-style town of Helen, Georgia, well-known for its Oktoberfest celebration in the fall, is a special place to visit any time of year. But, in spring, from March to May, mild temperatures and blooming flowers make for amazing waterfall hikes, zipline adventures, tubing on the Chattahoochee River, and much more fun in the North Georgia mountains.

Pack your hiking boots and a light jacket, and head about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta to experience Alpine Helen’s magic in springtime. You’ll find plenty of things to do for the whole family, unique community events, authentic German cuisine and Southern favorites, and accommodations to suit any style from campgrounds to mountaintop resorts.

Keep scrolling to find some top things to do in Helen this spring, or jump to:

Standup paddleboarding at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia
Stand-up paddleboarding at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Outdoor Activities

State Parks

A three-mile hike from Alpine Helen, Unicoi State Park & Lodge rewards visitors with 1,000 acres of Georgia's mountain forest. Experience the thrill of soaring through the trees on Unicoi’s zipline courses, go mountain biking, and try fly fishing, archery and stand-up paddleboarding. Book a stay in the unusual barrel cabins for a one-of-a-kind overnight experience.

Just 4.5 miles from downtown Helen, Smithgall Woods State Park is the place to go for exceptional fishing on Dukes Creek. Hikers and cyclists will love exploring the trails and roads through the hardwoods and along streams. The park’s waterside cabins are favorite places to stay for anglers.

Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia
Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia. Photo by Jacob Tekippe


Located just 2 miles from downtown Helen, Anna Ruby Falls is one of the most visited waterfalls in North Georgia. Follow the half-mile paved path from the visitor center to the viewing platform for a spectacular view of the double waterfall. Near the visitor center is a short Lion's Eye interpretive trail, which was designed for persons with visual and physical disabilities.

Raven Cliff Falls is one of Georgia's most popular waterfall hikes. The trailhead, located about 6 miles from downtown Helen off Highway 348, leads to a mostly easy trail that follows Dodd Creek for 2.5 miles before reaching the waterfall that cascades down through a gap in an impressive granite cliff. 

See more: Get the most from Helen, GA's waterfalls right now

Tubing on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, Georgia
Tubing on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @supersimplesaltylife


Starting in May, you can spend your days floating down the Chattahoochee River with outfitters like Helen Tubing & Waterpark and Cool River Tubing. Join the floating party that’s fun for the whole family.

Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen, Georgia
Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

More Family Fun

Grab a buddy or fly solo on Georgia's first alpine coaster, Georgia Mountain Coaster in downtown Helen. The German-made thrill ride, which looks like a metal bobsled track, sends riders careening down a mountainside around hairpin turns. Apply the brakes to your liking, or let it fly!

An exhilarating mix of outdoor fun, Nacoochee Adventures includes sightseeing ATV tours, a half-mile zipline, and a hair-raising freefall on a giant swing. Adventurers can choose from canopy tours that last from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours and can include playing zipline cornhole, touring a goldmine and racing dual ziplines.

Take in a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from atop the Lookout Tower at Uhuburg, a newly built castle with unique features and grounds. Join guided tours to learn more about the murals, architecture and gardens.

Find many more things to do in Helen.

Hot air balloon over Helen, Georgia
Hot air balloon over Helen, Georgia. Photo by @david_bristol


March 1

Opening Day at Hardman Farm - Join guided tours of this landmark home and historic site built in 1870, a grand example of Italianate architecture. See the bedroom belonging to Anna Ruby Nichols, the namesake of nearby Anna Ruby Falls, and learn about the Nacoochee Dairy that operated from 1910 until the mid-1920s.

Georgia Wine Highway Passport kicks off - Purchase a passport and start visiting Georgia’s wineries, many of which are near Helen and in North Georgia. Your passport is your ticket to tastings and additional perks at participating wineries. Learn more about Helen-area wineries.

35th Annual Helen Trout Tournament, March 30

Fish the famous Chattahoochee River during the Annual Helen Trout Tournament for your chance to catch tagged fish worth up to $1,000.

6th Annual Alpine Helen Songwriters Festival, April 26-28

Enjoy performances by award-winning songwriters from Nashville and Georgia at the Alpine Helen Songwriters Festival, held at five venues in town.

Alpine Village Volkswanderung 5K or 10K, April 27

Join this “German-style” walk on the hiking trails alongside trout streams and foothills between Helen and Unicoi State Park Lodge.

51st Annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race, May 30

The South’s oldest balloon event and the United States’ only long-distance hot air balloon race begins in Helen on Thursday, May 30, 2024, with a mass ascension of around 20 bright and colorful hot air balloons. The balloons race to cross the finish line (I-95) anywhere between Maine and Miami, wherever the wind carries them. In addition to watching the race start, visitors can enjoy other flying events in Helen on Friday and Saturday, including assisting with hot air balloon inflations, joining chase crews, and taking tethered balloon rides.

Find more events in Helen.

Hofer's of Helen in Helen, Georgia
Hofer's of Helen in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Eat & Drink

When you’re hungry, Helen’s restaurants are sure to satisfy any craving. Take in the scenery and the breeze over the Chattahoochee River while you enjoy German favorites and a pint at The Troll Tavern, and don’t miss a stop at Hofer's of Helen for a treat from the bakery case. Sample the wines at Habersham Vineyards & Winery, and check out the Old Sautee Store & Market for hiking snacks and local pickles and jellies.

Find many more great places to eat in Helen.

Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia
Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Places to Stay

Helen is full of unique places to stay, including the mountain-top Uhuburg, which features four private chambers on the second floor of the main castle. Or, you can retreat to the Valhalla Resort Hotel and enjoy the spa and sky-high dining at the rooftop restaurant. Stay at the iconic Heidi Motel with its landmark windmill or the riverside Helendorf River Inn Suites.

Find more places to stay in Helen.

Published: February 2024
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