Helen, Georgia

Wouldn't Deliverance have been scarier if they ran into Crazy Germans?map

I'm not German, but its kind of an adopted nationality of mine. I studied the language in high school and college. One of my mentors in life is a German National. So I'm a bit of a fan of its culture, especially the beer and food. Most people know about Georgia's little slice of Deutschland a couple hours North of the City, namely Helen, GA.

The city is well know for its Oktoberfest, and I suggest you get up there once in your life for the beer festival, but Helen is small and there is really only one road through the town. So it gets really, really crowded and difficult to navigate. Plus they hike up the hotel prices. What I like about Helen is the town the other 11 months of the year.

Helen is the third most popular tourist destination in all of Georgia, only behind our home Atlanta, and the great City of Savannah. It has a long history dating back to the Indians, and being the site of the first striking of Gold in the Blue Ridge Mountains. For most of the 20th Century, it was an active mill town. But as the mills were closing, the city was in real danger of disappearing. Right about 1970, the city fathers came up with the idea of remodeling the city in the style of a German Alpine town, and strangely enough it worked. Now it might be a little contrived, and it might make you laugh to see a fellow in leiderhosen greet you with a "Howdy Y'all," but like I said it somehow works.

What I like most about Helen is two things. First, the German Food and Beer. My favorite place to go is a Nouveau German Restaurant near the North end of the strip, called the Altstadter. The food is excellent and served in what I like to say is more or a tapas theme and excellent for sharing. I go there every time I am in Helen. (Editor's Note: The Altstadter by far the best restaurant on the Helen Strip is now closed, the owners at Edelweiss have the intention of opening up a similar concept attached to their main restaurant in Sautee...Helen's food situation has taken a quantum leap backward with its disappearance)

The second is, because of its tourist focus, the city is open most of the time much of the year. Many small towns I like seem to be closed a lot, but Helen serves as an excllent jumping off point for great Hikes and natural wonders. Principally, I would mention Smithgall Woods, Tray Mountain, Anna Ruby Falls, Rocky Mountain, and Brasstown Bald. Its nice to end your day in the woods, with a great meal and a fine beer. Helen is committed to that purpose.

Additionally, there is some terrific confectionary stores and gift shops. And if you want a little river adventure you can "Shoot the Hooch" by renting tubes from Cool River or Flea Market Tubing (both are very affordable).

Everybody should know Helen, Georgia by now. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't overlooked November through September.


  1. Hello! I'm planning a weekend trip to Helen next month and wondering if you have any recommendations for places to stay there? I'm sure there are plenty of options but not really looking to stay at a chain hotel ...

    Thanks for running this blog - I am bookmarking it!

  2. This look like an interesting place to visit for the day.



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