19 Reasons to Explore Alpine Helen in the North Georgia Mountains

Downtown Helen, Georgia
Downtown Helen, Georgia | Photo Credit: Shutterstock - Sean Pavone
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Nestled in the heart of the North Georgia Mountains, the charming town of Alpine Helen beckons visitors with its unique blend of Bavarian-inspired architecture, stunning natural beauty, and a wide array of activities and attractions. This enchanting little town has something to offer for everyone, from outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs to wine connoisseurs and those simply seeking a peaceful mountain getaway.

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If you’re looking for a destination that combines the charm of a European village with the warmth of Southern hospitality, look no further than Alpine Helen. In this article, we’ll explore 19 compelling reasons why this captivating town should be at the top of your must-visit list.

1. Tube the Chattahoochee River

Chattahoochee River Tubing, Helen, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
Chattahoochee River Tubing, Helen, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Tubing down the Chattahoochee River is an absolute must-do when visiting Helen, offering a refreshing and exciting way to experience the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Two popular tubing companies, Cool River Tubing and Helen Tubing, provide convenient shuttle services to various launch sites along the river, allowing visitors to choose their desired duration and level of adventure. Cool River Tubing offers two launch points, catering to those seeking either a shorter or longer journey, while Helen Tubing not only provides river tubing but also boasts a thrilling waterpark for additional fun. As you embark on your relaxing float down the Chattahoochee, you’ll navigate gentle rapids, take in the stunning natural scenery, and even enjoy the unique experience of floating right through the charming downtown area of Helen, creating an unforgettable blend of outdoor adventure and small-town charm.

Bridge Crossing the Chattahoochee River in Downtown Helen, Georgia
Bridge Crossing the Chattahoochee River in Downtown Helen, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

2. Take a Romantic Horse Drawn Carriage Ride

A horse-drawn carriage ride through the charming streets of downtown Helen offers a delightfully intimate and nostalgic way to explore this enchanting Alpine community. As you embark on your leisurely journey, you’ll be treated to picturesque views of the quaint Bavarian-inspired architecture, colorful storefronts, and meticulously manicured gardens that have made Helen a beloved destination.

3. Roam Downtown Helen

Downtown Helen, Georgia
Downtown Helen, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Strolling through the picturesque streets of Alpine Helen is an enchanting experience, offering visitors a delightful array of shopping and entertainment options. As you meander along the sidewalks, you’ll discover a diverse collection of shops, ranging from classic souvenir stores to unique artisan boutiques, each one showcasing a large selection of goods. Indulge your sweet tooth at one of the town’s renowned fudge shops, or cool off with a creamy scoop of ice cream as you take in the charming surroundings. Don’t forget to capture the memories of your visit by snapping photos at the various picturesque spots throughout downtown, and be sure to make a stop at the small but captivating Alana Falls cascade, located in Unicoi Hill Park. For a deeper understanding of Helen’s fascinating history and its transformation into Georgia’s beloved Alpine city, a visit to the Helen Arts & Heritage Museum is a must. This local gem offers a glimpse into the area’s rich cultural heritage and the creative spirit that has shaped this enchanting community.

4. Try Some German Food (or Beer!)

House Platter at Bodensee, Helen, Georgia
House Platter at Bodensee, Helen, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Immersing yourself in Helen’s culinary scene is an essential part of the Alpine experience, and no visit is complete without savoring the authentic flavors of German cuisine. Food lovers will appreciate the variety of traditional dishes that are offered, from the comforting warmth of a freshly baked pretzel with beer cheese to the satisfying crunch of a perfectly prepared schnitzel, accompanied by a tangy side of sauerkraut. For beer aficionados, Helen’s lively biergartens provide the perfect setting to indulge in a refreshing pint of crafted German-style beer.

5. Enjoy a Game of Mini Golf

Helen offers a delightful array of mini golf courses that cater to both the young and the young at heart, providing a perfect way to spend a fun-filled afternoon with family and friends. Embrace the town’s Bavarian charm by putting your way through a themed course, complete with charming Alpine obstacles and whimsical decor that transport you to the heart of Germany. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, set sail on a pirate-inspired course, navigating through treacherous waterways, hidden treasure, and swashbuckling challenges that will test your putting skills and your imagination. With multiple mini golf options available throughout Helen, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect course to suit your preferences and skill level.

6. Ride Georgia’s Only Mountain Coaster

Address: 8409 S Main St, Helen, GA 30545

Helen boasts a unique attraction that sets it apart from other tourist towns in the region: Georgia’s only mountain coaster. This exhilarating ride offers thrill-seekers an unforgettable experience as they wind through tight curves and feel the rush of adrenaline coursing through their veins. As you embark on this fast-paced adventure, you’ll have the power to control your own speed, allowing you to tailor the ride to your comfort level and maximize your enjoyment. Georgia Mountain Coaster’s sleek track seamlessly blends with the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, providing riders with breathtaking views of the lush forests and majestic peaks that define this part of Georgia.

7. Sip Wine at the Local Vineyards

The serene beauty of the North Georgia mountains provides the perfect backdrop for a leisurely afternoon of wine tasting, and Habersham Vineyards and Winery, located just outside of Helen, is a premier destination for wine enthusiasts. As one of the oldest and largest wineries in the state, Habersham Vineyards has been crafting award-winning wines since 1983, earning a reputation for excellence and innovation in the industry. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the winery’s inviting tasting room, where knowledgeable staff guide them through a curated selection of wines, each one showcasing the unique and skillful winemaking techniques that have made Habersham Vineyards a beloved fixture in the region’s wine scene. Beyond Habersham Vineyards, the area surrounding Helen is home to several other notable wineries, each offering its own distinct character and range of varieties, ensuring that wine lovers will find plenty of opportunities to explore and indulge in the fruits of the North Georgia mountains.

8. Stop by Nora Mill Granary Grist Mill & Country Store

Address: 7107 S Main St, Helen, GA 30545

Nora Mill Granary, a historic landmark that has been in operation since 1876, offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the rich agricultural heritage of the region. Perched on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, the grist mill harnesses the power of the flowing water to grind corn and wheat, using traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations. Visitors to the mill can witness the mesmerizing process of grinding grains firsthand, watching as the ancient machinery transforms raw ingredients into wholesome, flavorful products. After exploring the mill itself, be sure to stop by the adjoining country store, where you can purchase freshly ground items straight from the source, ensuring the highest quality and taste. The store also showcases a tempting array of local specialties, such as artisanal jams and honey.

9. See Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls, Helen, Georgia
Anna Ruby Falls, Helen, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 3455 Anna Ruby Falls Rd, Helen, GA 30545

Anna Ruby Falls, situated within the breathtaking Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, is a true gem among Georgia’s natural wonders. This awe-inspiring duo of waterfalls cascades down a staggering 150 feet, creating a mesmerizing display of power and beauty that captivates visitors from the moment they lay eyes on it. To reach this enchanting spot, visitors embark on a short but rewarding 0.4-mile journey from the visitor center along a paved trail. While the path is well-maintained, it is notably steep and winding, adding a touch of adventure to the experience. As you stand before the majestic Anna Ruby Falls, surrounded by the lush green foliage of the national forest, you’ll find yourself immersed in a moment of pure, untouched natural splendor. Be sure to snap some photos at this amazing waterfall!

10. Visit Uhuburg

Address: 571 Ridge Rd, Helen, GA 30545

Also known as Eagle Owl Castle, Uhuburg (ooo-hoo-berg) is a captivating Renaissance-style fortress that lies just beyond the charming downtown area of Helen, tucked away in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. This extraordinary castle beckons visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in a world of medieval enchantment. As you explore the castle grounds, you’ll have the opportunity to ascend the towering turrets, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountain landscape. Within the castle walls, you’ll discover a series of thought-provoking murals. For those seeking a truly immersive experience, Uhuburg offers the chance to spend the night in one of its authentically styled castle chambers, allowing you to fully embrace the atmosphere.

11. Spend a Day at Unicoi State Park

Lake Unicoi at Unicoi State Park, Georgia
Lake Unicoi at Unicoi State Park, Georgia | Photo Credit: Flickr – Jeff Gunn

Address: 1788 GA-356, Helen, GA 30545

Unicoi State Park is a nature lover’s paradise that offers an array of activities for visitors of all ages. From comfortable lodge accommodations to the rustic charm of rental cabins, the park provides a range of options for those seeking a tranquil getaway. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them engaged, with an archery range and a target range available for those looking to test their skills against the stunning mountain backdrop. The park’s well-stocked waters are a fly fishing enthusiast’s dream, while the serene Lake Unicoi beckons visitors to rent a boat or paddleboard and explore its pristine beauty at a leisurely pace. For those seeking a more thrilling adventure, Unicoi State Park’s zip line course offers an exhilarating journey through the treetops, providing a bird’s eye view.

12. Go on a Horseback Ride

Address: 2180 GA-17, Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571

Meander along the banks of the Chattahoochee River as you explore a beautiful piece of land within the Sautee Nacoochee Valley on horseback. Chattahoochee Stables offers guided horseback riding tours that take you on a journey through this stunning landscape. On your tour, you will pass by tranquil pastures where horses graze peacefully. As you follow the river’s path, you’ll find yourself immersed in the natural beauty of the surrounding environment. Your trail will also wind through a lush forest. Before concluding your tour, you’ll have the opportunity to pass by a Native American mound, a fascinating historical landmark that offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

13. Tour Hardman Farm State Historic Site

Hardman Farm State Historic Site, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
Hardman Farm State Historic Site, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 143 GA-17, Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571

Built in 1870, Hardman Farm is a beautiful Italianate home situated in the valley overlooking the popular Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound and also Mt. Yonah in the distance. Once the childhood home of Anna Ruby Nichols, who inspired the naming of Anna Ruby Falls, this state historic park offers guided tours of the beautiful home and the accompanying buildings. As you explore the meticulously preserved rooms and grounds, you’ll discover the fascinating stories of the influential individuals who once called this place home, including a captain, a businessman, and even a Georgia Governor. Through engaging narratives and carefully curated exhibits, the guided tours paint a vivid picture of life in the valley during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, shedding light on the challenges, triumphs, and daily routines of these notable figures. From the grand architecture of the main house to the rustic charm of the outbuildings, Hardman Farm State Historic Site offers a captivating journey through time.

Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound, Hardman Farm State Historic Site, Georgia
Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound, Hardman Farm State Historic Site, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

14. Hike Mt. Yonah

Trailhead Location: Off Chambers Road, Yonah, GA 30528

Rising majestically from the surrounding landscape, Mt. Yonah is one of north Georgia’s most iconic mountains, instantly recognizable by the large “bald spot” of stone near its summit. Adventurous hikers can embark on a challenging 2.3-mile trek to the top, navigating a steep 1,500-foot elevation change that rewards them with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and peaks. The mountain’s rugged terrain serves as an ideal training ground for the U.S. Army Ranger School, which utilizes the area for mountain practice each year. Intertwined with the mountain’s physical presence is a captivating Native American legend, telling the story of Nacoochee, a young Cherokee maiden, and her forbidden love with Sautee, a Chickasaw warrior. According to the tale, Sautee was pushed off the mountain by a band of warriors, and Nacoochee, unable to bear the loss, jumped after him, their tragic love forever etched into the mountain’s lore. The name “Yonah” itself holds deep significance, as it is the Cherokee word for bear.

15. Experience Smithgall Woods State Park

Address: 61 Tsalaki Trail, Helen, GA 30545

Smithgall Woods State Park, renowned for its pristine trout fishing along the picturesque banks of Dukes Creek, offers a wealth of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. While fishing opportunities may be limited to preserve the delicate ecosystem, the park’s 5,844 acres provide ample space for exploration and adventure. Hikers can immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness by traversing over 5 miles of well-maintained trails, while cyclists can embark on an invigorating 18-mile journey along the park’s winding roads. For those seeking to delve deeper into the park’s rich history and ecology, the Discovery Room Museum serves as an educational hub, offering fascinating insights into the area’s natural wonders. Visitors wishing to extend their stay can choose between the rustic charm of the pioneer campground or the comfort of six charming cabins.

16. Walk Across the Stovall Mill Covered Bridge

Stovall Mill Covered Bridge, Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia
Stovall Mill Covered Bridge, Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 2617 GA-255, Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571

The Stovall Mill Covered Bridge, a historic river crossing that dates back to 1895, holds the unique distinction of being the shortest clear span covered bridge in the state of Georgia. The bridge’s fame extends beyond its structural significance, as it gained national recognition after being featured in the 1951 film I’d Climb the Highest Mountain, starring actress Susan Hayward. Visitors can find this hidden roadside attraction just outside of Helen on GA-255 crossing the Chickamauga Creek.

17. Visit Babyland General Hospital

Babyland General Hospital, Cleveland, Georgia
Babyland General Hospital, Cleveland, Georgia | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 300 NOK Dr, Cleveland, GA 30528

Discover the enchanting world of Cabbage Patch Kids and Little People at the Babyland General Hospital, where the beloved childhood dolls come to life. Step into the birthplace of these iconic figures and learn about their fascinating origins, from the magical Cabbage Patch to the personalized adoption process. Witness the excitement of a Cabbage Patch Kid birth, explore the nurseries filled with adorable babies, and even select your very own bundle of joy to adopt, complete with an official adoption certificate and the assistance of a dedicated adoption counselor. You can also find dozens of accessories and toys for all sorts of customization. You’ll even see dozens of photos of celebrities who have visited this magical attraction.

18. Stop by the North Georgia Wildlife & Safari Park

Address: 2912 Paradise Valley Rd, Cleveland, GA 30528

Embark on a thrilling adventure at the North Georgia Wildlife & Safari Park, where you can experience the wonders of the animal kingdom with over 80 species of animals from around the world. This drive-through safari offers a unique opportunity to get up close to various creatures. As you navigate through the park’s winding paths, you’ll encounter majestic creatures such as wolves, playful monkeys, bouncing kangaroos, and graceful zebras. This wildlife experience is perfect for animal lovers of all ages, offering an unforgettable safari adventure.

19. Plan a Trip During Oktoberfest

Helen’s Oktoberfest is a lively celebration that attracts thousands of visitors eager to immerse themselves in the city’s German-inspired charm and festive atmosphere. From September through October, the streets come alive with the sound of traditional polka music, the clinking of beer steins, and the laughter of attendees dressed in authentic lederhosen and dirndls. The festival offers an abundance of tasty German cuisine, ranging from savory bratwursts and pretzels to sweet strudels and candied apples. With its warm hospitality, vibrant decorations, and non-stop entertainment, Helen’s Oktoberfest creates an unforgettable experience that transports visitors to the heart of Bavaria, making it one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the region.

Conclusion

Alpine Helen, with its picturesque setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains, offers a truly unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages and interests. From its charming Bavarian-inspired architecture and vibrant festivals to its breathtaking natural wonders and exciting outdoor activities, this delightful town has something to captivate everyone. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family-friendly vacation, or an adventure-filled escape, Alpine Helen promises to exceed your expectations. So, pack your bags, embrace the mountain spirit, and prepare to be enchanted by the 19 irresistible reasons to explore this gem of the North Georgia Mountains. As you immerse yourself in the town’s unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, you’ll create unforgettable memories and find yourself longing to return to this little slice of Bavarian paradise time and time again.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Helen before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

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