Visit Helen, Georgia, and explore a re-creation of a Bavarian Alpine village. Photo courtesy of Valhalla Resort Hotel, Facebook
Top Things to Do in Helen
Travel to Germany without leaving Georgia with a visit to Helen and nearby areas, located 90 minutes north of Atlanta. Go tubing through town in summer, celebrate Oktoberfest in the fall, and try outdoor adventures like hiking and ziplining all year.
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.
Zipline 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 forest.
Anna Ruby Falls
Admire the beauty of Anna Ruby Falls, a rare double waterfall that is formed just before two creeks merge. Although there are many waterfalls near Helen, 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.
Stroll through downtown Helen, which features Bavarian-style buildings filled with shops and restaurants. Among them, unique hand-blown glass gifts and art designs at The Glassblowing Shop, and Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen, where you can see fudge made on marble tables along with whipped cream caramel and caramel apples.
Nora Mill Granary Grist Mill & Country Store
Visit this authentic working grist mill nestled alongside the Chattahoochee River to see how corn is ground into grits. Nora Mill grinds corn daily using either the original French burr stones that are powered by the Chattahoochee River or by a more modern "Meal Master" stone grinding system located on the second floor.
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.
The oldest balloon event in the region, Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival, is part race and part showcase of colorful balloons every summer. The race begins in Helen, and the finish line is I-95 anywhere between Maine and Miami. The shortest distance is 225 miles, and the race usually takes two days. While the racers head to the Atlantic, other balloonists compete in local events beginning Thursday evening. Local flying events also take place on Friday and Saturday.
Helen is best known for its annual Oktoberfest festivities that run from September through October at the city’s Festhalle, home to beers, food and dancing.
Plan your trip with this Guide to Helen Oktoberfest
The holidays kick off with the Lighting of the Village event the day after Thanksgiving, which includes appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, musical performances and the lighting of the town. Helen's Downtown Christmas Parade is Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at 2 p.m. 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.
The Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center is one of the organizers of the Winterfest Art Tour, an event made up of 150 artists spread over three locations with crafts, demonstrations and prizes.
Held by one of the area’s original wineries, Habersham Winery’s Annual Wine Fest showcases over 20 wineries from the region. Attendees can sample them all with their tasting tickets while enjoying live music.