About HelenAfter deteriorating from an 1829 Georgia Gold Rush hot spot turned lumber mill town abandoned by 1969, the rejuvenated Helen mirrors a whimsical Alpine village. Surrounded by mountains and intersected by the Chattahoochee River, the town boasts cobblestone walkways, kaleidoscopic buildings, a market square and more than 100 specialty shops and restaurants.
Cast a line, hail a horse-drawn carriage, and pan for gold. Browse lines of shops filled with antiques, imported items and local crafts; or explore nearby Nacoochee Village, home to the 1876 Nora Mill and the 3-floor Nacoochee Antique Mall. If you’re the outdoorsy type, several state parks and the surrounding Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest might entice you with sightseeing, hiking, camping, canoeing and rafting.
Offering two beaches along a 53-acre lake, Unicoi State Park is 2 miles northeast off SR 356. The park also plays host to the Fireside Art and Craft Show held in mid-February. More than 50 talented artists and skilled craftspeople participate in this juried Unicoi tradition. The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway (SR 348) traverses the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests between Helen and Brasstown Bald—at 4,784 feet, the highest point in the state—and is particularly beautiful in autumn. Hardman Farm State Historic Site, located 2 miles south at jct. SR 17 and 75, is the site of the Nacoochee Indian Mound.
And you’ll be certain autumn has arrived when you hear a chorus of Prosts (the slang equivalent of Cheers) ringing through Helen during the 6-week Oktoberfest celebration, which begins in mid-September. Unwind with a beer-garden brewski or flaunt your Chicken Dance moves as you soak up the sound of genuine German tunes and the aroma of fresh wurst.
In June, bid Auf Wiedersehen to your favorite balloon at the annual Helen-to-the-Atlantic Balloon Race. Reputed to be the only long-distance hot air balloon competition in the United States, the event is conquered by the first contestant who crosses I-95.
Visitor Centers Alpine Helen/White County Convention & Visitors Bureau 726 Bruckenstrasse Helen, GA 30545. Phone:(706)878-2181 or (800)858-8027
Things to Do Smithgall Woods State Park
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8100 S Main St. Helen, GA 30545