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Why didn’t y’all tell me about Helen, Georgia?! I feel like I was the last to know about this adorable Bavarian town! This was another pit stop on our road trip, and let me be honest, I thought it was going to be a quick, spend-a-couple-of-hours-and-then-head-to-the-next-city kind of stop. Not the case. Once you get to this charming village, you’re going to want it to be more than just a quick little visit. If you’re planning your visit to Helen, Georgia here’s a list of 7 things you must do!
Where to stay in Helen, GA if you’re ballin’ on a budget
First things first, if you are wondering where to stay in Helen, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and really enjoyed it! It was extremely affordable, in a good location, and breakfast was included! During COVID, many places that have offered continental breakfasts before have stopped doing so. However, Helen’s Holiday Inn Express found a way to still provide a hot breakfast and make their guests feel comfortable. Instead of a buffet, hot breakfast sandwiches and warm cinnamon rolls (along with fruit, granola bars, and a few other simple snack items) were given out by staff members on request. The second we were finished with breakfast, someone was cleaning and sanitizing the area we had sat in. I thought they did an excellent job.
It’s also in a great location. It’s a 10-15 minute walk to the main area with all of the shops and some restaurants, but it had my favorite activity right in its backyard— Cool River Tubing, which took us cruising down the Chattahoochee River!
I almost always stay at IHG hotels, and love my IHG Rewards Card! I almost always have gotten a free upgrade when asking, and they often allow extra perks like prioritizing you for late check out/ early check in.Holiday Inn Express, an IHG hotel – Click Here
Must-do activities in Helen, GA
Enjoy authentic German fare at Bodensee Restaurant
There are a number of places in Helen that have authentic German food, but this was my favorite of the ones we tried. The food is so good you’ll really forget you’re in the States. I personally recommend their schnitzel, spaetzle, and house salad. If you aren’t familiar, spaetzle is like a dumpling noodle. I had mine with cheese and crispy onion, and holy shit, was it good! Remi had the Jagerschnitzel that came with mushroom cream gravy, and instead of fries, we opted for the German potato salad. If you enjoy green salads, definitely make sure you start with their house salad that comes with a homemade dill and garlic dressing! It was so good that I’ve been attempting to make it at home myself! And of course, don’t leave without getting a beer stein!
Grab a beer and giant pretzel at King Ludwig’s Biergarten
King Ludwig’s Biergarten was such a cute spot located in a really picturesque area in Helen. You can enjoy live music and giant mugs of beer along with a pretzel bigger than your head! And no worries— if you’re not into beer, they have White Claws too 😉
Get a charcuterie board from the Chattahoochee Cheese Market
We wanted to make a charcuterie board for a picnic we were going to have (the rain foiled the picnic plan), so we looked up where to get cheese and meat, and what a nice surprise finding this cute little place! They have everything you could want to make a charcuterie board— but even better, they make them there for you! And it’s really 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 presentation, variety, and flavor! We found this place on our way out, and I wish we’d found it sooner. It looked like they had some yummy coffee drinks and nice breakfast and lunch options as well!
Explore Anna Ruby Falls
Anna Ruby Falls is a one-mile paved trail that leads you to some lovely sights of, you guessed it, waterfalls! This is a very easy and enjoyable trail that is suitable for all ages. The trail is open from 9AM-5PM and has a $3 per person admission fee. We got there shortly after it opened (around 10AM) and it was definitely more trafficked than I would have liked. But it was also a Saturday when we went. It wasn’t as busy when we were going up, but when we were going down, it was definitely more difficult to avoid people. If you can, avoid going over the weekend, but if you can’t, just make sure you get there right as they open!
Tube the Chattahoochee
This was legit one of the best parts of our whole two-week road trip! It was so much fun! You can tube for one or two hours down the river. The length of time you choose determines your drop-off point. It was raining when we were going, and we weren’t sure how much we were going to like it, so we just did the one-hour trip. We lucked out, and by the time we got dropped off by the bus, it had totally stopped pouring! The hour flew by and we really regretted not doing two. Remi even tried using the stick we had to make our way back up river… unfortunately, to no avail.
You know what’s even better than finding a super-fun, unique activity? When that activity is hella cheap! It was only $10 per tube ($14 on Saturday and Sunday), and it was the same price regardless of how long you went! They also have connectors (free of charge) so you can combine tubes together! We purchased a stick which I believe was $5, but it was definitely necessary to get us out of some sticky situations.
FYI: Coolers and drinks are not allowed on the river. However they allowed us to take a couple of reusable water bottles.
Check out some wineries
This is something we unfortunately did not get to enjoy because of limited hours most of the wineries had due to COVID. But I highly recommend checking out some if you have the chance!
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 looked like it had the most breathtaking views, as it’s literally located at the base of a mountain. I was especially bummed I didn’t get to go to this one! Along with the views, they also frequently have live music on the weekends. They usually have cave tours and tastings, but due to COVID, they currently don’t. This could change at any time, so double check their website before going.
We were able to visit the Fox Vineyards and Winery tasting room, which is located in the heart of downtown, but we didn’t make it to the actual vineyard. The tasting only cost us one dollar, and you only have to pay that if you don’t purchase any wine (we got to sample five). The wines were too sweet for my liking, however I did purchase some fun little gifts and souvenirs for friends from their shop. I definitely recommend scoping the tasting room out and giving some of their flavors a try!
Take advantage of the beautiful photo ops!
There are so many cute places to take pictures! Looking at some of the shots I got, you’d really think that I was in Germany 😉 My favorite photo op spot was in front of the Heidelberg Restaurant located in the heart of downtown (see below). But there were plenty of other awesome spots as well, like the beautifully-painted wall by King Ludwig’s Restaurant. Make sure you take advantage of a few of these spots!
Something you should skip
Enjoying a carriage ride through the downtown area
I was SO stoked to do this! However, it was impossible to get a hold of the Alpine Carriage Company. Fortunately, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After reading the reviews many people seemed to have poor experiences (overpriced, didn’t last long, mistreatment of horses, and difficulty getting a hold of the company). I know it seems super cute, but my opinion is save your money for other activities.
Which activity are you most looking forward to?!
Don’t miss reading about the other stops (Asheville, Chattanooga, and St. Simon’s Island) on our epic southeast road trip! And especially don’t forget to snag my Ultimate Road Trip Packing List for some AWESOME recommendations you may have never thought of! 🙂
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