11 Things to Do in Helen, the Beautiful Bavarian Town in Georgia

For outdoor adventurers looking for places to visit in the Eastern U.S., North Georgia is the place to be! It’s very popular for its great outdoors and waterfalls, and it’s home to the picturesque Bavarian town in Georgia that many call the “German town in Georgia“.

And then, of course, there’s the Blue Ridge Mountains. I mean, with over 300 miles of hiking trails, Blue Ridge is definitely a great place for hiking lovers.

There are many exciting things to do in Helen, Georgia. From enjoying breakfast at an authentic German bakery to going candy store hopping, lazy river tubing, hiking in Unicoi State Park, or chasing waterfalls, there is enough to appeal to everyone.

city of helen georgia

And at just 2.1 square miles, it captures the hearts of millions of people. It’s the most beautiful German setting, right in the state of Georgia.

Without a doubt, Alpine Helen is the more charming side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s also one of Georgia’s most visited cities–taking the number 3 spot, and it has about 570 residents. Imagine that!

This beautiful small town in Georgia is a great travel destination any time of the year.

If you want to explore the town and do most of the unique things to do in Helen, Georgia that are included on this list, I’d say the best time to visit is during the spring.

However, if you want to squeeze in more outdoor adventures during your trip—like the river tubing and the Helen Air Balloon Festival, then the best time to visit is during the summer. The only downside to this time of the year is the crowds.

alleys shops in the german town in georgia

For those who love Oktoberfest, then the best time of the year to visit Helen, GA would be late September through October when the city has its Oktoberbest festivities going on.

It’s a great environment and the nicest weather!

But again, many people from all over the country attend Helen’s Oktoberbest Festival so just keep in mind that it will be crowded and this may not be a suitable time if you’re looking for a laid-back experience.

Lastly, if you don’t mind the cold weather then Fall and Winter are great, too. Especially in the Fall, when you get to witness all the beautiful foliage of the North Georgia mountains around the town and at Unicoi State Park.

people walking down the street in the bavarian town in georgia

How to Get to Helen, Georgia

Located in North Georgia, Helen, GA is not far from Atlanta, at just a 90-minute drive.

For my fellow Floridians, this charming Bavarian town in Georgia turns out to be a great 7 hr 30 min drive from Downtown Orlando.

From Orlando, you’ll take Florida’s Turnpike towards Ocala, and eventually merge onto I-75 N. After crossing the Georgia state line, be sure to make a stop at Georgia’s Visitor Center.

There are tourism magazines available that will be great for planning your trip to Helen, Georgia and you find other great things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

helen ga for couples

Top Activities to Enjoy in Helen, GA

I can honestly say that Helen is one of my favorite places to visit in North Georgia.

This Bavarian town in Georgia is an ideal destination for nature lovers and those who seek unique experiences near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Here are some of the things you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Helen.

Carlos and I sitting by the river in Helen, Georgia

1. Have Breakfast at a German Bakery

hofer's bakery in helen

Starting your day off with a delicious breakfast from an authentic German bakery is a very unique experience that everyone will love.

At Hofer’s of Helen Bakery and Cafe, you’ll find a delightful selection of freshly baked goods as well as various options that you can take to-go.

Many visitors frequently visit this charming cafe before embarking on their daily activities since it’s a place where you can find a complete breakfast menu in a place that stays true to the Bavarian village experience.

Before adding Hofer’s Bakery to your Helen, GA itinerary, keep in mind that it does get pretty busy, especially in the morning.

Therefore, I highly recommend ariving early if you want to visit this German bakery for breakfast in Helen. Hofer’s opens daily at 8 am and closes at 5 pm Monday – Thursday, and at 6 pm Friday – Sunday.

2. Go Lazy Tubing on the Chattahoochee River

lazy tubing on Chattahoochee River

This is one of the best things to do in Helen and I encourage you to not leave the city without doing this.

Lazy tubing in Helen, Georgia down the Chattahoochee River, is a great outdoor activity for the whole family, and it lasts around 2.5 hours.

Depending on the level of the water, there will be some exciting twists and turns!

lazy tubing on Chattahoochee River

Lazy tubing season in Helen, Georgia runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and you can rent your tubes with either Cool River Tubing (blue and green tubes) or Helen Tubing (pink tubes).

Both companies offer different tubing trip options that range from 1 hour up to 2.5 hours and prices vary for weekdays and weekends.


3. Explore the Beauty of Anna Ruby Falls

anna ruby falls in helen georgia

Right in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, you will find the beautiful Anna Ruby Falls.

This waterfall is one of the best attractions in Helen, GA and I think of it as a sanctuary with cooling mists, rainforest vibes, and beautiful scenery.

How long does it take to hike Anna Ruby Falls?

From the parking lot, you can follow the 0.4-mile paved trail which will lead you to the waterfalls. The trail is very slippery, hiking shoes or really good sneakers are recommended.

For avid hikers, the Smith Creek 4.6-mile Trail is a great adventure that takes you from the base of the waterfalls to the Unicoi State Park.

anna ruby falls in helen georgia

How much does it cost to go to Anna Ruby Falls? For every person 16 and older, there is a $3 fee.

Anna Ruby Falls is open daily (weather permitting) from 9 am to 6 pm. However, nobody is allowed to go on the trails after 5 pm. You can visit the Georgia Tourism website for more information.

4. Take a Picture at the Alpine Wedding Chapel in Helen, Georgia

alpine helen wedding chapel in the Bavarian town in Georgia

Whether or not you’re planning on getting married any time soon, the Alpine Wedding Chapel is a must-see in this Bavarian town in Georgia.

This beautiful chapel is a great photo op, especially during the day when you can see the contrast between the wood and the lush greenery. Even if you’re traveling solo, this picturesque Chapel is worthy of a picture!

At just a short walking distance from the Alpine Chapel is the Pirate’s Cove Adventure Mini Golf, making this a great spot for those looking for things to do in Helen, GA for couples.

5. Experience Wine Tasting at a Local Vineyard

Yonah Mountain Vineyard in Helen, Georgia

There are a handful of vineyards to visit in Helen, Georgia!

We decided to visit Yonah Mountain Vineyards and we fell in love with the whole vibe. The grounds are also very nice and pretty!

We did the Yonah Wine Flight and tasted four of their delicious wines. The vineyard atmosphere is very romantic and it’s probably one of the best things to do in Helen, GA for couples or with your group of friends.

This charming Bavarian town in North Georgia is a place that you should visit at least once, but you're not gonna want to leave! #AlpineHelenGA #ExploreGeorgia Share on X

6. Try the Delicious Ice Cream at Soda Jerks

I’m not big on sweets or ice cream, but this one, in particular, is actually one of my personal favorites. The ice cream from Soda Jerks is velvety smooth and tastes delicious!

This is a very low-key and laid-back ice cream shop that qualifies to be the icing on the cake for this trip. 

7. Enjoy a Riverside Dining Experience by the Chattahoochee River

When it comes to food, unfortunately, you won’t find many options for us vegetarians. Nonetheless, many restaurants in Helen, GA have great salads on their menus and delicious quick bites.

riverfront restaurants in the Bavarian town in Georgia

Pro Tip: For the best views of the Chattahoochee River, arrive early to grab seating spots on the patio. 

8. Discover Gem Mining Experiences in Helen, Georgia

Being right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains has its perks for doing lots of outdoor activities.

Going gem mining or gem hunting is another one of those things that you just have to do. You’ll try your luck going through the dirt-filled buckets, and it’s super fun.

gem mining in georgia

You could get your hands on rare earth gems, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethyst, and more! This is one of the most memorable experiences I have had from my trip to Helen. 

Unfortunately, I lost all my pictures from the day I did the gem hunting, but I still have the gemstones. PS. don’t mind my bunny in the picture! LOL

9. Go on a Hiking Adventure at Unicoi State Park 

For those who love camping, hiking, and outdoor adventures, Unicoi is a treasure meant to be found. Unicoi State Park is located just 2 miles northeast of Alpine Helen.

the lake at unicoi state park in the bavarian town of Helen Georgia

There are five hiking trails at Unicoi to choose from, including a mountain bike trail.

The longest trail is the Smith Creek Trail which takes you through the Chattahoochee National Forest to Anna Ruby Falls. It’s a strenuous hike that could take you about 6 hours (round-trip) to complete.

🥾 Grab the Unicoi State Park Trail Map here.

The North Georgia mountain views that you will experience while hiking at Unicoi State Park are truly mesmerizing! Besides hiking, you can also do paddleboarding, GPS scavenger hunt, and zip-lining, and you can rent a GoPro right at the park!

Unicoi is on my list as one of the most beautiful state parks in Georgia and it sure is a nature paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

10. Visit the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound 

For history buffs like us, this archaeological site is another must-see in Helen, GA.

The Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound is located right on the corner of highways 17 and 75, just 4 minutes away from Alpine Helen.

nacoochee indian mound things to do in the bavarian town of helen georgia

This Mound burial site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Graves were most likely placed on this site before the Cherokee Tribe came to this area.

It’s a very interesting place filled with a rich history. Bring your camera because this site is worthy of pictures! 

11. Get Your Dose of Sweets at Hansel & Gretel Chocolate Factory and Other Candy Stores in the Village

If you’re always in need of a sugar fix, you will find many options for candy and treats in Alpine Helen.

Candy shops are super popular around here and I’m sure you’ll find just about any type of candy.

Not to mention, you will also be able to get your hands on candy apples, chocolate truffles, and delicious fudge.

the streets of helen a bavarian town in georgia

Best Places to Stay in Helen, Georgia

For the most unique experience, the best places to stay in Helen, GA are lodges, cabins and campsites, Barrel Cabins and glamping sites at Unicoi State Park.

Some of the best small hotels in Helen are also Bavarian-style, affordable and mostly within walking distance from the center of the village, like:

🚘 While You’re Here: Check out the incredible waterfalls in this state park in North Georgia located a short drive from Helen!

If you’re interested in more of a unique cabin stay, then this chalet near Downtown Helen with a sauna, fire pit, and a great atmosphere for a relaxing stay, is definitely a great place to stay in Helen, GA.

helen georgia oktoberfest


The biggest celebration in the city of Helen, Georgia!

When? Sept. 26th – October 27th, 2024

Helen Oktoberfest runs daily from Thursday to Sunday through September and daily from Sept. 26 to Oct. 27, 2024.

Get details

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11 Things to do in Helen Georgia
Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is an avid adventurer with 15+ years of hiking experience and outdoor travel. As a PADI-certified scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Mallorca, Spain.

34 thoughts on “11 Things to Do in Helen, the Beautiful Bavarian Town in Georgia”

  1. Wow, Georgia looks beautiful! I love finding little hidden gems like this when traveling. I have a cute little Bavarian town a few hours away from me, perfect for a weekend getaway. I have never been to Georgia, but will add this to my must visit list when I go 🙂 Great post!

  2. Georgia looks like a great place to visit! I love cute little Bavarian towns. There is one a few hours away from me that I love to take weekend trips too (Frankenmuth, MI). I love the culture and food! Great post, enjoy learning about different countries 🙂


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