For avid travelers with a sweet spot for Southern charm, Helen, Georgia, is indeed a one-of-a-kind experience. The city is a Bavarian alps replica town nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And though only 430 residents populate its 2.1 square miles, Helen is popular among tourists and day-travelers—making it Georgia’s third most visited city.
Read on to learn all about Helen’s remarkable history, attractions, accommodations, dining, entertainment and much more.
Helen, Georgia: Where the Old World Blends with the New
There’s more to Helen than it’s friendly locals, quaint bed-and-breakfast inns, and cobblestone streets. In fact, the city was once part of a greater region that was inhabited by the Cherokee Indians.
Shortly after that, Helen—which sits along the Chattahoochee River—attracted European settlers, who brought mining and logging trades to the area in the hunt for gold.
When those trades slowed, Helen rebranded its image into that of a traditional south-German style village. Now, every building and business within the city limits resembles the colorful decor and lodgings of an Alpine getaway. This has earned the town its current nickname of “Alpine Helen.”
Want to learn more about the historical roots of Alpine Helen? Add these sites to your itinerary:
- Hardman Farm State Historic Site. Visitors can enjoy guided tours through grand, 19th-century Italianate architecture, Indian mounds, a large spring house and horse barn.
- Nora Mill Granary and Country Store. Observe original millstones and grain grinders from 1876 in action.
- Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound. Take a step back in history before the vast Indian burial mounds and Cherokee settlements in this “National Register of Historical Places” inductee.
Weather in Helen, Georgia
For nearly 40 years, weather in Helen, Georgia has consisted of brisk spring seasons, warm summer months, and chilly Autumns and winters. Each month has its share of precipitation, but never so much to disrupt a planned excursion or vacation.
If you’re planning to visit this alpine-lookalike during Fall or Winter, prepare for average highs that could get up to 70 degrees or lows that reach 29 degrees.
For Spring and Summer tourists, expect highs above 85 degrees and colder morning temperatures as low as 40 degrees.
Things to Do In Helen, Georgia
Tourism is the primary industry in Alpine Helen. Every weekend, visitors flock to the cobblestone streets for walking tours or to stay in one of the many cabins overlooking the photogenic Blue Ridge mountains.
Helen is also a popular destination for cyclists and motorcyclists, who frequent the scenic roads that line the outskirts of the city.
The city has a broad array of attractions that are just as diverse as the tourists it attracts. We’ve assembled the highlights into a traveler’s guide to help you plan your visit:
Taste the Flavor of Bavaria with Helen’s Food Scene
Alpine Helen’s authentic Bavarian dining is the ultimate dining experience for “foodies” and lovers of fine cuisine. Köstlich—which is German for “delicious”—is the consistent theme among the formal, relaxed, international, regal and down-home dining options. Feed your hunger with schnitzel, sausages, craft beers, and other exotic dishes from around the world.
Experience Alpine Helen—Then Take it Home With You
Commemorate your time in the Helen by shopping from its many unique and independently owned stores. Browse Amish-crafted home furnishings and local craftwork by talented artisans. Helen’s many museums also have trinkets available for purchasing for friends and family back home.
Enjoy a Melting Pot of Culture and Tradition
Alpine Helen’s robust art and culture scene have benefited from its Native American and European origins, a unique blend that is conjured among its local musicians and fine artists.
- Explore folk art and intricate, handcraft works from locals at The Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia or custom made gourds at The Gourd Place.
- Take free oil, watercolor, jewelry-making and basketry classes at the Helen Arts and Heritage Council.
- Expand your love affair with the vintage South at Scarlett’s Secret, a Gone with the Wind inspired museum housed within a sprawling, Plantation-style mansion.
Fun the Whole Family Can Enjoy
Helen has something for everyone, including active families with kids of all ages. Want to take a break from the more serious activities? Catch a round of mini-golf at Alpine Mini-Golf Village or take in the views (and smells) at the Lavender Lamb Farm.
Want an action-packed day with the whole family? Look no further than the zip-lines of American Adventure Park, white-waters of Wildwood Outfitters, or the horse-rides at the Chattahoochee Stables.
Whatever you decide to do, Helen offers it in a unique perspective—and fun for all. Here’s a breakdown of additional family activities that the city offers:
- Charlemagne’s Kingdom features a vast scale model of German railroads, terrain, and architecture.
- The Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center is a favorite for ambitious hikers of all skill levels. It’s Lion’s Eye Trail also offers a novel way for visual or hearing impaired visitors to experience the environment through Braille signs.
- Dukes Creek Mines allows you to walk in the footsteps of Helen’s first settlers as you hunt for gemstone treasures.
- Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen is the #1 candy manufacturer in Georgia, with a selection fit to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Annual Festivals and Events
Alpine Helen features many yearly festivals and traditional events each year. Most notably is its very own Oktoberfest, which runs through September, October, and November. Adrenaline enthusiasts will also enjoy the hot-air balloon race, which is held over the first weekend in June. The Southern Worthersee, a tribute event coordinated by Volkswagen and Audi, is probably the most well-known Alpine Helen event and is attended by 20,000 people every year.
Explore the Tastes of Helen, Georgia, Vineyards
Helen, Georgia offers a multitude of wine-tasting and wine-touring options through its numerous, scenic wineries and vineyards. Whether you want to enjoy the tastes of the foothills as a group, indulge in gourmet dining, or sip as you sight-see in a taxied tour of the county, Alpine Helen has it.
Here’s where you can relax with a glass in Alpine Helen:
Alpine Taxi and Wine Tours.
Get away from your busy schedules with Alpine Taxi and Wine. Full or half day wine tour options can be reserved for visitors that wish to combine local wine-tasting with sight-seeing through the county. Drivers are on standby for your own tour. All you have to worry about is which wine you like best!
Cottage Vineyard and Winery
Do you like sweeter wines? Look no further than Cottage Vineyard and Winery. The company is currently in the process of harvesting sweeter grapes to make their famous Cottage wine.
Elite Excursions and Wine Tours
Kick back, enjoy the mountain air, and listen as a professional driver explains to you the history of Helen’s vineyards and secrets of its wine-making community.
Habersham Vineyards and Winery
Habersham Vineyards and Winery is an internationally-renowned, award-winning wine-maker. It has been in production since 1983 and is also one of Georgia’s oldest wineries. Hear the entrepreneurial journey and vision of its owner, Tom Slick, and his 30+ year success story in making one of the state’s finest wines.
The winery is open daily. Guests can also view the making of wine from the comfort of the tasting room, wine, and gourmet food in hand.
Sylvan Valley Lodge and Cellars
A popular site for group tastings of craft beer and local wines, Sylvan is the place for you to meet new friends as you taste vintage beverages.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
This two-hundred winery is family owned and nestled at the foot of the Yonah Mountain. Yonah Mountain Vineyards make world-class wines with an intricate process; they are dedicated to the family system they have perfected over the decades. Hear their story as you explore the emerald hills of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and more. The vineyards are also home to the only wine cave in Georgia!
Where to Stay in Helen, Georgia
With so much to do in Alpine Helen, you are sure to need a comfortable bed to regain your energy. Rest in comfort in one of the city’s affordable lodgings, or vacation in style at a spacious condo or cabin rental overlooking the Blue Ridges. There’s room for every household budget—which allows you to save for shopping or city adventures.
Here is a sample of the housing that Alpine Helen offers:
- Bed and Breakfast lodgings
- Rustic cabins
- Condos and vacation rentals
- Hotels and motels
Plan Your Trip to Helen, Georgia
For visitors with a heart for the South and a passion for Bavarian culture, Alpine Helen has it all. The approachable, friendly hospitality of Southerners, breathtaking landscapes, exotic cuisine and lots of adventure—all candy-wrapped an international, southern-German aesthetic—is enough to please any fellow traveler.
This makes Alpine Helen the perfect, affordable opportunity for you to see another country without leaving your own.
But don’t just take our word for it—find out for yourself. Let our travel guide plan your journey into another time, another place. And when you come back, let us hear about your experience!