Because we aren’t together often, we like to take “mini” adventures very frequently. Long weekends are the perfect opportunity for an adventure! This time, we met in the Northern Mountains of Georgia.
We were stationed in middle GA for four years and we always talked about visiting this iconic “German-like” village tucked away in the GA mountains. We researched and planned every year, but never actually went. Either I was having a baby, nursing a baby, hubby was deployed or whatever other million reasons why we don’t get to do things.
But this time around, we checked it off of our list!
This little village actually doesn’t have German roots. *shocker*
It really was a marketing ploy to get tourists to visit the little town! 65 years later, we were visiting with a TON of other tourists, so it worked!
A local artist and dreamer, who had been to Bavaria, visited the small town and was reminded of his time in Germany. He began to draw and paint mock ups of what the village could look like if fashioned like Bavaria. He brought it to the town members and they loved it! They immediately began re-construction and created a version of Germany in America. (You can learn about this and much more at the History Museum in Downtown Helen).
If you are visiting Helen anytime soon, here are a few tips to help you!
5 Tips for Visiting Helen, GA
1. If in a vehicle, avoid Main St.
Alternate Route: Find Edelweiss Strasse and get off of Main St!
Oh the traffic on Main St.
I should specify that we visited Helen on Memorial Day weekend, accompanied by a lot of other people who also had a day off.
BUT. THE. TRAFFIC.
There are several crosswalks on Main Street with mandatory stops, which is amazing for the safety of the pedestrians! However, for the folks driving through to their hotel, hike, adventure or wherever, it’s pretty rough.
As we came into town, we found that there was another street that paralleled Main Street that was easier to navigate. If you can find your way onto Edelweiss Strasse, you’ll be better off.
From the other direction, find Ridge Road. We found this one on our way back from our hike at Dukes Creek Falls.
The point is, find an alternative route to Main Street and you’ll get around a lot quicker!
2. Go Tubing on the Chatahoochie
There are two tubing companies in town: Cool River Tubing and Helen Tubing.
I won’t go into much detail on Helen Tubing, but they did have a waterpark that you could package in with the Chatahoochie River float. Their prices for the float alone were slightly cheaper. I couldn’t find a minimum age limit on their website, but from watching the floaters on the river, it didn’t seem like they had one.
Cool River Tubing has a location in downtown Helen, which was extremely packed. This location is actually where you exit the river. If you start here, you’ll park your vehicle, pay and then ride a bus up to the outpost and float back down to your car.
If you can have someone drop you off, you are much better off to purchase your tickets up at the outpost, where the lines are much shorter. This is actually the location of their other adventure, the zip line course, which looks super fun! If we go back with older children, we will definitely be doing it!
Minimum age is 3 for Cool River Tubing and after doing it, my hubby says that he wouldn’t want to take a child any younger at least until they can sort of hold themselves up in the tube. Me and LO waited along the river to watch the two bigs and hubby go by. The river runs right through downtown, so there are many places where you can watch the patrons floating by.
TIP: You need water shoes (can be purchased for $10) and a stick to navigate the river ($5 each). They have tickets for one trip and all day tickets. The all day tickets are probably the best deal for your money.
The actual float down the river is probably about 1.5-2 hours, but the wait in the line for tickets, for your tube to get in the river will add at least another hour or more to the experience.
3. Go on a Hike
As a family, we fell fast in love with hiking during our time in Hawaii.
At that time, we had an almost 3 year old and a 5 month old.
We fully relied on our Kelty Kids Hiking backpacks! We do like the Ergo for shorter hikes with babies who sleep, but if we are in a hot climate, it can be really uncomfortable… and sweaty. Many of the Kelty Kids backpacks have space for the child and some of your stuff too (waters, sunscreen, bugspray, diapers, etc).
There are several hikes near Helen, GA. The famous one that most of the tourists do is Anna Ruby Falls, but it’s pretty short and paved and we wanted a little more of a challenge.
Our two bigs now walk the hike at 5 and 7, so we can’t do anything too crazy. This time around we selected Dukes Creek Falls. It was about 2 miles down the mountain to a beautiful 150 foot waterfall.
It’s a pretty hike, with several nice views and you can hear the water for almost the entire hike. We abosolutely enjoyed it and would reccomend it!
Atlanta Trails is my favorite site to research hikes in Georgia. Find more hikes on their site here.
There are quite a few food options, but being that this little town isn’t inhabited by tons of German residents, finding authentic food is a little more difficult. You can find a “german” pretzel, but I wasn’t super convinced that it was really … well … German.
Our favorite by far was Hofer’s. It was the closest thing I’ve had in the US to the schnitzel that I ate in Germany during our time there. There were all sorts of imported, authentic German pantry goods for sale in the shop, along with fresh deli meats and beautiful bakery items too! We were too full to try any of them when we left, but I would highly recommend going at breakfast to swoop up one of their scones!
We also ate at The Heidelberg. We had the pleasure of visiting Heidelberg, GA, so it caught our eye. They had a small balcony overlooking the square and often offers live music. The atmosphere was good, and the food was pretty good too. However, if you only have time for one, grab Hofer’s, for sure.
PS: COFFEE. So, it’s no secret that I love coffee. I drink it daily (sometimes morning and afternoon… shhhh!) and I’m always on the lookout for new places to try. While there are a few in town, we stopped at Higher Ground Coffee right on main street. The man was so super helpful that we went back again! The coffee was delicious, served with a smile 🙂 They had house blends for sale as well.
We had essentially NO service for the first day we were there. We couldn’t even send a text message. While disconnecting from the world is a great idea and we did enjoy that part, we REALLY needed service in order to find the hike we were looking for.
As I mentioned before, the man at the coffee shop was super helpful! He said when you come into the area, turn your phone on airplane mode and then back on. If you lose service at any time while driving through the mountains, do it again. What a trick!
This resets your phone to the nearest tower, thus giving you service!
Some more tips
If you have time, here’s what to do:
Eat at Rib Country for some really good GA BBQ with a view! You can watch tubers going down the river while you eat!
Watch a glass blowing demonstration at The Glassblowing Shop (TIP: Hold littles… everything in there is GLASS… go figure) He was making barometers and it was simply mesmerizing.
Visit Windmill Dutch Imports for some authenticity.
Take a look around Betty’s Country Store. There is a ton of local goods there and the people are very friendly! They have soda’s in glass bottles, which is literally the only way I drink soda just because it’s cool.
Let your kiddos pick out a bag of real gemstones at The Wildewood Shop for less than $5! The kids had a blast with this and they play with them all the time now!
Have you visited Helen, GA? Share your experiences and tips! We will be going back for sure!!
*This post contains some affiliate links from Amazon Associates. I will be paid small commissions if you use my links. All opinions are my own. This helps me to be able to provide awesome content to you!