Fun Activities in a Popular North Georgia Mountain Village
When tourists come to Helen they get to experience the German culture. Besides the popular Oktoberfest held in the fall, Helen draws visitors year-round.
Maybe you’ll never make it to the Swiss Alpines, but if you live in the south, you can visit the quaint Bavarian village of Helen, Georgia. Located in North Georgia on the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River, this charming town in the North Georgia Mountains is one of the top vacation spots in the Southeast, rated third in Georgia, trailing Atlanta and Savannah. Helen draws thousands of tourists each year, but especially during Oktoberfest.
Outdoor Activities in Helen, Georgia
When you first drive into Helen you notice people floating down the Chattahoochee River in tubes. Tubing is a popular outdoor activity in Helen, is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day at two tubing companies down the Chattahoochee River, including Cool River tubing Company and Flea Market. There’s also a water park, complete with slides and a wading pool for tourists of all ages. Other outdoor activities popular in Helen include horseback riding, golf, biking, and picnicking.
Helen’s Georgia Oktoberfest
Although Helen’s Oktoberfest began on a small scale in the 1970s, it’s developed today into one of the largest festivals in the Southeast. Oktoberfest, which salutes the town’s German roots, runs from mid-September through October. While the daytime activities may include shopping and enjoying the beautiful outdoor weather and scenery, the evenings are filled with Festhalle, which is the place for German food and bands. Festhalle features polka dancing with tourists can learn the chicken dance and relax in the beer garden over a German beer.
Georgia’s Largest Model Railroad Display
If you love model trains, then you have to visit Charlemagne’s Kingdom which is Georgia’s largest model railroad display. The scaled miniature railroad is laid out over 400 feet of tracks, including electric trains, a three-ring circus, and hot-air balloons. Mountains that are 22 feet tall tower over rivers, lakes, and villages in this replica of the scale model located in Germany with about 5,000 figures, all hand-painted. You can pick various souvenirs at the gift shop including electrical train sets and John Deere tractors.
Museum on the Hills
North Georgia’s Early 20th Century Farming Culture
Museum on the Hills takes tourists back to the turn of the 20th century where they learn about the land of the North Georgia Mountains. Through animation, the narrator Barney O’Feller, with his faithful dog, “Blue” at his side, tells the story of farm life in the early 1900s. There are a village, a farmer’s home, and moonshine still as well as the Fantasy Kingdom for the kids.
Shopping in Helen
Trolley cars or carriage rides can take you through the downtown village where you can browse through the many souvenir shops. Helen’s more than 200 import and specialty shops offer unique souvenirs ranging from antiques, North American items, mountain goods to historical memorabilia. Cross stitch enthusiasts flock to Foxy’s Cross Stitch and More on South Main Street to find unique patterns and other stitching tools.
Helen’s Cafes and Restaurant
Riverfront cafes and restaurants dot almost every street of shopping area featuring mostly German food including bratwurst and beer. Traditional southern cooking including grits, biscuits, gravy, and country ham are also available as well as Mexican eateries. Outside the downtown area, on route 75, is The Black Bear Dinner Theatre, a professional dinner theatre that offers quality Broadway entertainment and musicals.
Finally, one of the best features of this delightful mountain village is that it’s close to other North Georgia mountain towns. While there stop by the Visitor’s Center and check out all that’s available for a family vacation in mountain villages such as nearby Dahlonega, Blairsville, and other towns.