Helen is located northeast of the inn and known as a Bavarian Alpine Village. It’s a popular destination for many visitors to our area. We find that our guests tend to have strong feelings about Helen – they either love it and want to plan future trips to the town or tell us that once was enough, but they’re glad they made the drive. You just might want to check out Alpine Helen yourself.
Years ago the town was a successful saw mill town complete with a railroad that hauled lumber and passengers from Gainesville to Helen. The saw mill business fell on hard times and in the late 1960s a group of businessmen and a local artist decided to reinvent the town into a Bavarian village complete with gingerbread adornments on the shops, restaurants and lodging. A river runs through town and has become popular for tubing. Helen is very popular for family vacations since there are a lot of things to do to keep the kids entertained. Starting every September Octoberfest happens for several months with German music, food, dance and people in costume.
If considering a visit from our inn to Helen we suggest you take the northern route through town during the busy periods (Fall and some weekends) to avoid the traffic coming from the south. The map below shows a good route. Web site links to the places mentioned are also listed at the bottom of the page.
We enjoy meandering through Helen two or three times a year and prefer the areas not located in the immediate downtown area. Here are some of our favorite stops. If coming from the north you will be close to Unicoi State Park which features scenic Anna Ruby Falls. The trail to the falls is an easy hike on an asphalt surface. Also coming from the north into town, Betty’s Grocery is a must see on the right side north Main Street before you reach the town shop area. Betty’s is a gourmet grocery with the largest craft beer selection we have seen in these parts. Last time we visited they had a neat little bar out front with a fire pit – a perfect spot to sip your wine or beer on a cool day or evening.
Leaving Betty’s and heading south you will enter the downtown shop section. You can stop and browse if you wish. There are many shops selling souveniers, t-shirts, and candy as well as places to eat. It is a good people watching area so pick a bench and enjoy. At the edge of the shop area you will see the river where there several restaurants – a few right on the river. Just a little further south on your left is a Wendy’s and behind the restaurant is a good German restaurant we enjoy called Bodensee .
Still heading south you will see the first and currently only alpine slide in Georgia on your right. We haven’t tried it, but it looks like fun! Normally you only see the alpine slides in snow ski areas. There’s a putt putt golf course not far down on the left and two other putt putt courses in town as well.
A mile south of Helen proper is Nachoochee Village. On the right you’ll find two popular restaurants Nacoochee Village Tavern and Pizzaria and Mulley’s Nacoochee Grill. Nora Mills is just south of them on your left and is an old grist mill still in operation. It is worth stopping to see the equipment in operation, check out the giant trout in the river out back, try some samples of grits, cornbread or puddin or make a purchase. We always buy a bag of their stone ground grits when passing through. Across the street visit Habersham Winery for tastings and a neat antique mall in an old multi story house. Next to the winery is Nacoochee Adventures that features the longest dual zipline in Georgia.
After leaving this area head south again and you will see the Hardman Farm on the left. The farm was owned by one of the wealthiest men in Georgia during the early 1900s who was also governor of Georgia. The mansion and other buildings have been restored and are now a State Historic Site. Take a left at the Indian mound (with the gazebo on top) to get to the main entrance and parking. If you go to the farm you can hike a new trail from the farm along the river to the southern edge of Helen. The trail was built on the old railroad bed along the river that hauled lumber and passengers from Helen to Gainesville.
Sautee Nacoochee is also located down the road where you turned at the Indian mound and features the Folk Pottery Museum which is very interesting. The Gourd Place is also not too far away which also features art, pottery and jewelry made from gourd molds.
After leaving this area you will be heading south (see map below) towards Cleveland. Before you get to Cleveland you will notice Yonah Mountain (has a rock face) on the left. Look for Yonah Burger on your right and just past the burger joint you will see Tantrum Brewery. Tantrum is the area’s first brewery and the first brewery in Georgia to grow its own hops. Stop in for a “farm to table” beer.
After leaving Tantrum you will head south again and take a right at the Ingles Grocery to get back to the inn.
Web Sites to 11 Places Listed Above
1)Anna Ruby Falls http://www.unicoistatepark.org/anna-ruby-falls.html
2) Betty’s Grocery https://bettysinhelen.com/
3) Bodensee Restaurant https://bodenseerestaurant.com/
4) Alpine coaster https://georgiamountaincoaster.com/
5) Nora Mills http://www.noramill.com/
6) Habersham Winery http://habershamwinery.com/
7) Zip Lines https://www.nacoocheeadventures.com/
8) Hardman Farm https://gastateparks.org/HardmanFarm
9) Pottery Museum https://www.snca.org/folkpotteryWebsite/fpm/home.php
10) Gourd Place https://gourdplace.com/
11) Tantrum Brewery https://tantrumbeer.com/