Why We're Packing Our Bags and Heading to Helen, Georgia
Southerners flock to the mountains of northeast Georgia every fall for leaf-peeping, Oktoberfest, wine tastings, and holiday shopping. It's hard to imagine a better Christmas town than Helen, given its Bavarian charm. This Alpine village in the Blue Ridge Mountains is tiny—just 2.1 square miles, with only 430 residents—and that means downtown Helen is easy to navigate. Then there's the gingerbread architecture, which makes any visit here a storybook experience.
Between the Blue Ridge and the Chattahoochee River, Helen and its surrounding White County are not only great during the holidays, but they're perfect for a spring vacation. That's not to say you can't allot ample time to explore the myriad local shops and galleries, or have your fill of Southern fare with a German accent. But now that the weather's warming up, you don't have to spend all your time chasing the chill at local bakeries and German pubs.
Here are some of our favorite things to see in Helen and White County in the springtime. Let us know what we missed!
Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Anna Ruby Falls flow from two creeks, Curtis and York. You can enjoy this scenic area for just a few dollars, payable at the Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center. Dukes Creek Falls cascade 300 feet into Dukes Creek Gorge, accessible by—you guessed it—Dukes Creek Trail (.8 miles).
Zip Line Canopy Tour and Aerial Adventure Park at Unicoi State Park & Lodge
Level One of this course has 11 ziplines ranging from 75 to 400 feet and reaching heights of 20 to 75 feet, plus 7 skywalk bridges and 2 towers. Level Two, opening April 26, is bringing lines of up to 2,000 feet long, with heights up to 100 feet. It follows a lakeside course, offering great views. Visit the Unicoi Lodge site for prices and weight requirements.
Speaking of Unicoi State Park & Lodge . . .
You can try your hand at everything from 3-D archery and GPS scavenger hunts to paddle boarding, fishing, and mountain biking at this beautiful park. Choose from modern hotel accommodations or primitive campsites. Groups should check out the cabins at the Lodge's Adventure Camp, tailored to friends and families who want a communal experience with privacy from other campers.
Fruit of the Vine
Enjoy tours and tastings at local wineries in Helen, Cleveland, Dahlonega, and Sautee-Nacoochee. The Habersham Winery hosts the 25th Annual Winefest on May 6. Find a map of local wineries at georgiawine.com.
Mountain towns have a knack for the offbeat, and Helen has a few of those surprises up its sleeve. Don't miss a photo op at the old-school Heidi Motel (visit heidimotel.com just to watch the onscreen windmill spin). The Biscuit Inn not only allows pets, but caters to Beauregard, with room names like Rocky, Duke, and Lady, and décor that includes dog beds and the occasional fire hydrant. Make a pilgrimage to neighboring Cleveland, Georgia, just a few minutes from Helen, to find the birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids and visit the Babyland General Hospital. We predict you won't leave there without signing adoption papers for your very own Cabbage Patch little one.
Helen is an easy drive from mega air hub Atlanta. Want some tips for saving on airfare? Watch this:
Now that you know how to score a travel bargain, make a list of all the springtime adventures you plan to have in Helen and the Georgia mountains. Spring is here! Get on out there!