Helen is a charming Alpine town located just north of Atlanta, Georgia, and it is truly a hidden gem! We visited this adorable little town on our road trip around the South and ever since, try to return for different seasons. It promotes itself as “the charm of Bavaria in the heart of Blue Ridge Mountains”. The description is spot on! This town does, in fact, resemble a quaint Bavarian village. There are plenty of Helen GA attractions for all ages and interests. Plus, because it is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are plenty of hiking trails and outdoor activities to enjoy as well. Here is a family guide of our favorite things to do in Helen GA.
Helen GA Attractions
While Helen is a tiny town a little over an hour away from Atlanta, it has enough to keep tourists busy no matter what the season. Here are some ideas on what to do when visiting the Helen GA attractions.
Stroll through Downtown
The main street of Helen is quite picturesque! It really does seem as if you’ve traveled to a German village. There are plenty of specialty shops, hidden alleyways, delicious snacks, and gorgeous architecture here. We meandered into various shops, and while they do have the usual magnet and Christmas ornaments available, there are also many unique, handcrafted stores here. These are some of the shops that stood out:
Hansel and Gretel’s Chocolate Shop
One of our family’s favorite places to stop for a quick snack was at Hansel and Gretel’s Chocolate shop. You can sit and watch them make any number of tasty treats like candy, fudge, and chocolate. They offered free samples and had a variety of truffles, cookies, fudge, and other great snacks on display. We also took some treats to go!
Tim’s Wooden Toys
Our kids loved playing inside Tim’s Wooden Toys. Here they browsed and played with so many handmade toys they had never seen before. At Tim’s Wooden Toys, they carry traditional type toys, as well as many different cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes. They have art sets and crafting kits, puppets, toy guns, as well as medieval swords and shields. We could have stayed and played for hours, but as usual, we were on a time crunch and wanted to explore more Helen GA attractions.
Windmill Dutch Imports
Everything at Windmill Dutch Imports is imported from the Netherlands. They have cookies, wooden shoes, gifts, cuckoo clocks, art, chocolate, and much more. We bought some snacks we had never seen before and enjoyed it on the road back to Atlanta.
Alpine Festival of Craft and Arts
Browsing the Alpine Festival of Craft and Arts was a lot of fun! It is considered the largest craft shop in Helen and has a variety of dolls, crafts, painting, ceramics, quilts, birdhouses, yard signs, floral displays, jewelry, and so much more.
Both times we have visited Helen, we walked into the Christmas Shoppe. They carry handmade ornaments of all kinds and even collegiate items too. One thing to note though is that they are only open from May-December.
Notre Gift and Art Studio
Notre Gift was a gem of a place! It is run by a local artist who specializes in personalized gifts and souvenirs. There are a variety of handmade products, create your own options, classes, and more. We bought a color-changing candle and loved it.
Fred’s Famous Peanuts
Our kids loved Fred’s Famous Peanuts! This roadside shop was such a unique and quirky find. Their peanuts are crunchy, fresh, and tasty. We tried a few samples, but ended up buying the salted roasted peanuts and pralines. They also have pork rinds, local honey, salsas, salad dressing, homemade jellies and jams, bbq sauces, jerky, and more.
Charlemagne’s Kingdom is an Alpine Model Railroad Museum. This huge exhibit depicts the terrain and architecture of Germany countryside and is a unique stop. Admission is inexpensive at $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids.
The Glassblowing Shop
Our kids were very intrigued when we explained what glassblowing was as we walked by this shop. Here you will find thousands of blown glass items on display. When we walked in we could see someone at work, and it was very fascinating to watch.
Visit the Nora Mill Granary
Nora Mill Granary is not located in downtown Helen, but it is a worthwhile stop on my Helen GA attractions list. This is an operational grit mill that produces fresh and delicious goods to purchase. They sell grits, pancake and waffle mixes, cornmeal, biscuit and bread mixes, porridge, oatmeal and much more. We bought a couple of pancake mixes and biscuit mixes to take back home and make with the kids (by the way – they were fantastic).
Eat Bavarian Food and Drink Beer
Helen has an extensive array of Bavarian cuisine. If you have never tried any of these, don’t be shy about asking the servers, the food is very simple, yet flavorful, and best of all great with our picky eaters. We have eaten at Old Heidelberg and Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese Cafe. Both places had authentic and delicious German food like schnitzel, spaetzle, potato salad, brats, sauerkraut, and apple strudel. Other restaurants on our list that have been recommended to us are: King Ludwig’s Biergarten and Hofer’s Bakery. All around Helen, there is no shortage of German beer and classic Bavarian food options. We hope to be back during Oktoberfest, which is supposedly even more lively!
Take a Riverfront Walk
The Chattahoochee River runs right through Helen. A nice stroll along the river is a nice way to walk off all of that food you’ve been eating all day. There are even some areas where a paved path runs right along the river’s edge. Not many tourists seem to know about this path, so check it out for some scenic views.
Hike and Chase Waterfalls
There are plenty of things to do in Helen GA with kids in town, but if you are looking for some outdoor fun, then consider visiting Unicoi State Park and hiking some trails. After a quick 5-minute drive, you can reach Anna Ruby Falls. The hike was very short (only 1 mile) and pretty gentle the whole way. On our way to the falls, we walked past some creeks and wooded areas.
There were several viewing platforms to take pictures and soak in the beauty. Overall, we highly enjoyed this hike in Anna Ruby Falls. If hiking is more your thing, then check out some of these great waterfall hikes nearby: Dukes Creek Falls, Raven Cliff Falls, Helton Creek Falls, DeSoto Falls, and Blue Hole Falls to High Shoals Falls.
River tubing is a very popular summertime activity in Helen. In fact, it is rated among the top things to do in Helen GA. Our kids were too young to tube when we visited in the summer (3 and 5), so I wanted to wait until they were a little older. Here are the two main companies that provide river tubing down this gentle section of the Chattahoochee River.
Cool River Tubing is located across the street from the Helen Welcome Center. They offer a one-hour trip or a two-hour trip for $10 or you can choose to buy an all-day-pass. The company provides free shuttle service from their parking lot to the two entry points.
Helen Water Park and Tubing contains 4 water slides, a lazy river, a kiddie splash area, and a 25-foot rock wall for climbing. Admission to the water park ($25) includes unlimited tubing down the Chattahoochee River. If you’d prefer to only tube, the cost is $8.00 per person for a single ride which lasts about 2.5 hours. They also provide free shuttle service between the river and water park.
What family Helen GA attractions list would be complete without mini-golf? If your kids are anything like mine, they love a themed mini-golf course – the more elaborate the better! Here are the top two mini golf locations in Helen:
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
This 18 hole course has caves and waterfalls, and is, of course, pirate-themed.
Bavarian Mountain Golf Course
This place has two 18 hole courses with stunning views. They also have arcade games and billiards, ski ball, air hockey, and other classic games. A very fun, family-friendly place and one of the top things to do in Helen GA with kids.
Mine for Gems
A great Helen GA attraction for kids might be will love mining for gems and fossils. Helen was originally a mining town and there are still many mines around the area as proud reminders of Helen’s history. Mining is one of the unique things to do in Helen GA and can be a fun, educational activity to learn more about mining and rocks.
Outpost Gold and Gem Mining Co.
Outpost Gold is located around the corner from the Helen Welcome Center in downtown. It is the second location of the popular mining company Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines. Here, just like at the original location, you can sift through buckets for precious metals and gems like gold, ruby, sapphire, amethyst, and quartz, mine for fossils, or break apart a geode.
Take Old Time Photos
If you’ve ever considered taking some of these types of photos with your family or significant other, check out these top two options for old time photos in Helen GA.
Wild West Old Time Photos and Steve’s Old Time Photos
Both places have a great collection of vintage props, backgrounds, and period costumes. This could be a fun and unique thing to do in Helen GA.
Where to Stay in Helen
The Jameson Inn is a great choice because it’s just a short drive to downtown Helen and to surrounding attractions like the Babyland General Hospital. It has all the facilities you need with nice rooms with fridge and toiletries. It’s also very good value and breakfast is included. Kids will especially like the indoor heated pool which is a big plus.
Contributed by: Sharon Gourley
Heidi Motel and Windmill Suites
Heidi Motel is one of the most photographed landmarks in Helen GA. It has very high ratings and positive reviews, plus you have the option of staying in an authentic windmill suite.
Check out rates for hotel stays in Helen.
Another idea is to rent an Airbnb nearby. We stayed in a beautiful cabin nearby and loved the seclusion and decor! It was kind of an upscale family glamping experience. If you have never tried Airbnb, here is $40 off your first booking.
Things to Do Nearby
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