day trip to Helen Georgia
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Day Trip to Helen Georgia: Itinerary+ things to do

Being lived near Atlant, I always find ways to travel to destinations that are a few hours away for a quick weekend getaway! I love exploring my backyard! So, in this Day trip to Helen, Georgia (GA) I am including One Day Itinerary, the best things to do in Helen, and much more.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen, GA is one of the most picturesque towns of Georgia and the most cute town to visit in the United States! What makes it more unique is its old-world charm with stunning Bavarian-style architecture, straight out of Alpine village from Europe!

Helen, GA is like a slice of Germany in the USA with Germany-like architecture, authentic German food, vibrant cultural scene, music, and celebrations with a dash of natural beauty!

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, cultural immersion, or simply a tranquil escape from the bustle of city life, Helen offers a unique blend of Southern hospitality and European allure that captivates the hearts of all who wander its streets. Helen, Georgia is the perfect weekend getaway and day trip from Atlanta to experience everything!

Helen 24 hrs Itinerary

In this travel guide, I will be sharing the best things to do in Helen, GA, top Helen attractions, activities not to miss, and nearby places to visit as a day trip to Helen, GA, and Helen 24-hour Itinerary. Let’s dive more into this complete travel guide to visit Helen, GA.

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Quick Information About Helen, Georgia

Where is Helen, Georgia?

Helen is about 1.5 hours from Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, situated on the edge of Chattahoochee National Forest. That makes it a great weekend getaway spot and it’s an easy day trip to Helen.

If you’re looking for waterfall adventures like me, you can visit nearby Unicoi State Park. Hit the trails if you love outdoor adventures, followed by German food and drinks in the Helen.

Why is Helen, GA German-themed?

Helen was originally home to the Cherokee until European settlers came for the timber and gold. But the industry was declining during the 1960s! Seeking a way to revitalize the town’s struggling economy, local business owners and leaders decided to embrace a unique and unconventional theme: Bavarian Alpine village, which we are seeing today.

With its timber-framed buildings, colorful murals, and authentic German cuisine, the town quickly became a beloved destination for visitors seeking a taste of Europe without leaving the country.

You can learn more at the Helen Welcome Center at 726 Brucken Strasse.

Why is Helen, Georgia famous?

Helen is most famous for its Bavarian-style architecture, Oktoberfest festivities, traditional German culture, and thriving art and culture. Being nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and bordered by the Chattahoochee National Forest, Helen also offers many outdoor adventures. From hiking and mountain biking to tubing and fishing on the Chattahoochee River, the town offers endless opportunities for adventure in every season.

best things to do in Helen in one day

What is the best time to visit Helen, GA?

While you can visit during any time of the year. I love visiting during Summer (June to August) and Fall (September to November). It is perfect with mild temperatures and lots of sunshine. It’s an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, and exploring the town’s scenic beauty. During the Fall season, you can see a stunning display of fall foliage in the surrounding mountains.

Spring (March to May) is a beautiful time to visit Helen, as the weather begins to warm up, and nature comes to life with blooming flowers and budding trees! The Winter months (December to February) are chilly but during the holidays, the town transforms into a winter wonderland, with festive decorations, and holiday markets.

Best Things to Do in Helen, Georgia in One day

Though Helen is famous for its Oktoberfest activities and Christmas celebrations, there are so many other amazing things to do in Helen, Georgia. There are amazing state parks with waterfalls and hiking trails near Helen, which is perfect for outdoor adventure throughout the year! Here is the list of the best things to do in Helen, GA for a day trip from Atlanta.

Wander around downtown Helen, GA

The downtown area is so charming and fairytale, you can’t resist taking so many photos! There are many cute places in downtown Helen, you’ll find yourself transported to a world that resembles the idyllic Alpine towns of Europe.

Quaint cobblestone streets lined with charming shops, restaurants, and boutiques housed in quaint Alpine-style buildings, while the tranquil Chattahoochee River streams through it. Don’t forget to click yourself at Alpine Wedding Chapel, the cute little chapel is the best photo spot in the town!

Georgia Mountain Coaster

Experience the thrill of the Georgia Mountain Coaster, where you’ll have an adventure in the mountainside. This alpine coaster offers a unique blend of speed and scenic beauty as you glide through forests and curves.

It is a perfect family-friendly activity, open 7 days a week (weather permitting) and hours vary by day. The price is nearly $20 per person to ride once. You ride 1 or 2 people per cart and can drive it to control the speed.

Stay at the Cute Heidi Motel

Located at the end of Main Street in Helen, Heidi Motel is one of the most charming places to stay in Helen. It offers to stay inside the Windmill! Even if you’re staying in the hotel, get yourself clicked at this cute place!

24 hrs in Helen Georgia

One of the highlights of staying at the Heidi Motel is its charming Bavarian-style architecture and decor. The exterior of the motel is adorned with colorful flower boxes, timber-framed balconies, and other traditional Bavarian elements, giving it a distinctive and inviting appearance.

Grab a beer and giant pretzel at King Ludwig’s Biergarten

King Ludwig’s Biergarten is one of the charming spots, in a picturesque area in Helen. You can enjoy live music with giant mugs of beer along with a pretzel bigger than your head! This will remind you of being in Germany rather than in the USA! This beer garden is most famous for its Oktoberfest activities, so don’t forget to visit it during your day trip to Helen.

Tube the Chattahoochee River

One of the best things to do in Helen, during your one day in Helen is Tubing the Chattahoochee River. In the hotter, summer months you can go tubing down the Chattahoochee River (locally called Shooting the Hooch), with one of three tubing companies.

Tubing in Helen Georgia

They provide the tubes and life jackets and will tie your group together so you can travel as a unit. It costs just $10-15 per person. We purchased a stick for $5, to help out of some sticky situations.

Tubing in the river is seriously so much fun! and this is probably the best thing to do in Helen, and you aren’t going to want to miss out.

Enjoy authentic German Food

Several places in Helen serve authentic German food. Few are located along the river in a beautiful setting! Here are a few recommendations for the best food in town:

And of course, don’t leave without getting a beer stein! If you’re a foodie, this is one of the best things to do in Helen, GA!

Visit the Nora Mill Granary

If you’re in Helen, visit this historic grist mill, which has been operating since 1876 sitting alongside the Chattahoochee River. They are still using the original 1,500-pound French Burr Stones to grind and produce all kinds of corn and wheat-based products such as cornmeal, pancake & waffle mixes, flours, biscuit & bread mixes, pioneer’s porridge, etc.

You can take a guided tour of the mill. They also have an old-fashioned country store & gift shop where you can purchase freshly ground grits, flour, and other products made on-site.

what to do in day trip to Helen

Visit the Helen Arts & Heritage Center

If you are history and culture lover, stop at the Helen Arts & Heritage Center. Here, you can learn about the history and culture of Helen and the surrounding area at this beautiful Museum. The center features rotating exhibits, workshops, and events showcasing local artists and artisans.

Check out the Wineries

One of the best things to do and to end your day trip to Helen, GA is visiting the beautiful vineyards of North Georgia. I highly recommend checking out some if you have the time! 

  • Habersham Winery is one of North Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries! You can do tastings where you can try five different wines for $10, or for $12, try five different wines and get a souvenir cup!
  • Yonah Mountain Vineyards has the most breathtaking views, as it’s located at the base of a mountain. Along with the views, they also frequently have live music on the weekends.
  • Fox Vineyards and Winery, located in the heart of downtown, the tasting only costs one dollar, and you only have to pay that if you don’t purchase any wine (we got to sample five). I recommend scoping the tasting room and giving some of their flavors a try!
Helen Georgia day trip
Outside Christmas Shoppe store

Go Shopping

Helen’s main street is filled with so many themed shops. Be sure to pop inside the Christmas shop, Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen, the hat shop, Lindenhaus Imports for toys, The Glass Blowing Shop, and more! You’ll find Europe-influenced wooden souvenirs here.

Get the Gourmet Cheese from Chattahoochee Cheese Market

I am a big cheese lover and I found this cute little shop during my day trip to Helen Georgia. The Chattahoochee Cheese Market has everything you could want everything Cheesey! You can get all types of gourmet cheese to make a charcuterie board — but even better, they make them there for you! And it’s decently priced (they have options starting at $15, and they make it on a cute wooden board you get to keep!).

I was so impressed with the variety, and flavor! They also had some yummy coffee drinks and nice breakfast and lunch options as well!

Explore Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls is located inside Unicoi State Park and it is a 0.5-mile (one-way) paved trail that leads you to some lovely waterfalls! It follows the stream up to the waterfall and has two viewing points with plenty of benches along the way and at the destination. The trail is very easy and enjoyable, suitable for all ages.

The walk was beautiful along the river! I enjoyed our visit and definitely recommend it if you need an easy trail with beautiful scenery!

Anna Ruby Falls

The trail is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and you’ll need to pay $3 per person admission fee. You cannot use the Georgia State Park Pass for the falls. We visited it during the noon after exploring the downtown. It was the weekend but the crowd was manageable. But if you want to avoid the crowd, plan to visit when it opens!

Visit some of Georgia’s state parks

One of the best things to do when visiting Helen, Georgia, is to explore the nearby state parks and national forests. Two of the most popular options are Unicoi State Park and the Smithgall Woods State Park.

Unicoi State Park is located just a few miles from Helen and is a great place to hike, swim, fish, and camp. The park features over 1,000 acres of forests, streams, and lakes, as well as a variety of recreational activities. Visitors can hike along the park’s many trails, including the popular 2.5-mile Unicoi Lake Trail, which offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The park also has a swimming beach, a fishing pier, and a lake for boating and paddling!

Smithgall Woods State Park: Located just a 10-minute drive from Helen, this is one of the most beautiful parks to visit in Helen. There is a river and waterfall in the park. You can also go fishing, biking, and hiking. Two of the trails that lead to waterfalls are Martin’s Mine Trail and Chunanee Falls Trail! This is the must-visit for your day trip to Helen Itinerary, especially during the Fall season.

Also Read: Day trip and weekend Ideas from Atlanta

Visit the Babyland General Hospital, Cleveland

If you are looking for the most fun places to visit near Helen, visit the Babyland General Hospital. It is the only place in the world where you can witness the birth of a hand-sculpted Cabbage Patch Kid!

It is a free attraction and you can take a self-guided walking tour of the Babyland and play with Cabbage Patch Kids as much as you like!

Our One-Day Trip Helen Itinerary: How to Spend 24 Hours in Helen, GA

I visited Helen during the summer in May to escape the mundane weekends! Once we arrived in Helen, we parked our car at the public lot at the end of Edelweiss Strasse.

There’s no free parking in Helen, but the public lot we used only charged a $5 fee for the entire day! The machine accepts cards and it’s one of the ones where you enter your license plate number; leaving the receipt on the dashboard isn’t necessary. After Parking our Car we explored the Main street and walked around all the shops, restaurants, and river sidewalks.

  • Morning: Have Breakfast at Hofer’s Bakery and Cafe
  • Explore the Main Street & walk till the river
  • Lunch at one of the Riverside restaurants of your choice
  • Afternoon: visit the Anna Ruby Falls
  • Evening: Visit the Babyland General Hospital & end your day at one of the wineries

Money Saving tip for a day trip to Helen

If you are visiting from home near Atlanta for a Day Trip to Helen, I recommend packing a lunch so you save some money on food. We usually bring our Lunch box, snacks, and protein bars. This meant we only had to pay for one meal instead of two. We do this often for day trips to save money when traveling. I love day trips near home and it’s an excellent way to save a few bucks!

Yearly Helen, Georgia events

If you’re interested in taking part in some of the events and festivals that Helen has to offer, then the best time to visit is during the summer and fall months. Helen is one of the best destinations in the US to visit in the Fall because they are known for their Oktoberfest celebration that runs from the end of September to the end of October.

This event celebrates German culture with live music, traditional food and drink, and other fun activities. You can enjoy beer gardens, polka dancing, and even a parade.

Other events and festivals in Helen include the Helen Art and Wine Festival, which takes place in May and features wine tastings, live music, and arts and crafts vendors. The Helen Christmas Parade, which takes place in December, is also a popular event that features holiday-themed floats, marching bands, and more.

The Helen Balloon Festival is another popular event that attracts visitors from all over the country. It’s typically in June and is a great opportunity to see hot air balloons up close and experience the thrill of a balloon ride.

If you’re planning to attend any of these festivals, it’s important to plan ahead and book your accommodations as early as possible, as they attract a large number of visitors!

Overall, Helen, Georgia, is a great destination year-round, but the best time to visit depends on what you’re interested in doing. Whether you want to enjoy the outdoors, take part in the local festivals, or simply relax and explore the town’s charming Bavarian-style architecture, you can always enjoy this small charming town, no matter what time of year you visit.

Where to stay for one day in Helen, Georgia

Helen is surrounded by cute hotels, many of which keep with the Bavarian style architecture. Here are my top picks that I recommend if you’re staying overnight or for the weekend.

  1. Heidi Motel: Budget option in a classic hotel with a windmill!
  2. Alpine Village Inn: Budget option in a great location
  3. Valhalla Resort Hotel: Luxury stay in the Town.
  4. Black Forest Bread & Breakfast: Located on Main Street with amazing reviews.

Conclusion: Day Trip to Helen, Georgia

Whether you love Charming architecture, and authentic German cuisine, or want to escape the hustle of city life, Helen, Georgia will exceed your expectations for sure. It is one of my favorite places to visit in the United States. With amazing festivals, events, and so many beautiful Helen Attractions it is always a delightful visit!

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