Helen, Georgia was a sawmill town that fell on hard times. They shipped timber to Europe and the US but when all the timber was gone, the sawmill workers relocated and Helen was left a shell of a town. So in the 1960's city officials met to decide how to improve their town and came up with the idea to make it resemble a small Bavarian town. Gingerbread trim was added to the buildings and now it hosts a two month Oktoberfest every fall and draws tourists in for it's Alpine flavor. Like the towns of Solvang, California and Leavenworth, Washington, Helen has tapped into a European feel - and look- to bring tourists in to experience it.
Sometimes the planets align just right and trips go smoothly. There are no delayed flights, no one gets sick and all your plans, well.... they go as planned. And then there are times that storms delay your flight or your car gets broken into or your little one gets the flu. The latter is what happened when I got together with my girlfriends for a girls weekend getaway in the northeastern Georgia mountains. We had booked a cabin and planned to do all the fun things one can do in the small Bavarian-style town of Helen. But there was a major problem with the cabin - I won't go into details because they did make it right and refund our money - but we had to find a new place to stay. And one of my girlfriends family members was hospitalized. So we took that as a sign that this trip just wasn't meant to be and cut our trip short. But I did have a blast for the short time we were together. Here are a few things we did - and a few we didn't - that you can do in visiting Helen.
Shoot the Hooch
One of the most popular summertime things to do in Helen is to Shoot the Hooch - or in layman's terms - float the Chattahoochee River. There are several companies that will transport you to or from the river and give you a tube to float on. Costs are minimal - $8 for a few hours or $12 for the day. And you can float your cares away.
Follow the Unicoi Wine Trail
There are six wineries on the Unicoi Wine Trail located in Northeastern Georgia. We visited Habersham Winery - one of the oldest on the trail - and did a tasting. Housed in an old barn, Habersham had Muscadine wine - a southern wine known for it's earthy sweetness. So far I am the only person I know that likes Muscadine wine.( Have you had it and do you like it?) The tasting room is located 1/2 mile outside of Helen.
Visit Anna Ruby Falls
Located in Chattahoochee National Forest, Anna Ruby Falls is a double water fall. You drive through Unicoi State Park and then pay a $3 fee to visit the falls. You will reach the falls after a short 1/2 mile hike on a paved trail. There is also a visitor center with restrooms and a gift shop to visit.
Visit Historic Nacoochee Village
Located 1/2 mile outside of Helen, Nacoochee Village is a grouping of historic buildings which now house restaurants and shops. Also located here is the Nora Mill Granary - a grist mill from 1876 which is still operational. You can purchase stone ground grits, corn meal, porridge and other grain products ground right here at their site. (We ate at Nacoochee Village Tavern and Pizzeria.)
Every year the Helen Festhalle houses an Oktoberfest from mid September through the end of October. Billed as the longest running Oktoberfest in the US, you can enjoy "beer, brats, bands and lederhosen" If you can't make it to the original Oktoberfest in Germany, think about giving the one in Helen, Georgia a try!
And of course, there are the usual shops and restaurants you can enjoy here also. Well, maybe not so usual - there aren't too many places in Georgia where you will feel you're in Germany - without leaving the states!
This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner!