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Staying Local: Exploring Helen, GA

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

Based on what we know right now about the spread of COVID, if you are going to be out and about, being outdoors in wide open spaces seems to be one of the better options. If you like outdoors adventures and you have a little travel bug inside of you that’s screaming to get out, then you should consider visiting Helen, GA in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is an hour and a half drive north from Atlanta.

I stumbled upon this town while reading up on hiking paths near the area. The Anna Ruby Falls hike came up in the results and, while looking at the location, this small town styled after a Bavarian village caught my attention.

Helen is a very small village (only 2.1 square miles) but is packed with quaint hotels, cobblestone walkways, Alpine foods, and German-styled shops. I just had to go check this out for myself!

After spending a long weekend in Helen, here are the four things that you absolutely don’t want to visit without doing:

Walk Through the Town

Walking around Helen feels like you’re being transported to a small mountain town in southern Germany, nestled among the mountains. The buildings are all crafted in a Bavarian style and the foods being served up and down the streets mostly lean on German roots. (But you definitely can grab a pizza or a Wendy’s cheeseburger here too.)

There are so many little artisan shops lining the streets, selling everything from handmade quilts to art pieces to flavored olive oil.

It really is a great place if you like perusing for unique and fun novelties.

Make sure you stand on the bridge for a bit and watch the tubers glide down the Chattahoochee River!

Photographed by Ronda Wright.

Go Tubing Down the Chattahoochee River

So speaking of tubing… 😊 Yes, I went tubing down the river! There are a few different companies in Helen that offer tubing. They also offer buses that will drop you off at the starting point or take you back to the starting point after you’ve finished. I went with Cool River Tubing since their starting point offered about two hours of floating down the river. I will say, at some points, you do have to put in some effort to navigate or you will get stuck on some of the boulders in the water if the river isn’t high at that point. Overall, it was a relaxing experience.

Photographed by Ronda Wright.

In addition to tubing, Helen offers a ton of outdoors activities in its vicinity. Unicoi State Park is about 3 miles outside of downtown Helen. Inside the park is Unicoi Lake where you can fish or paddle board.

There are ziplines, hiking trails, and archery and target shooting. So for those of us that love our outdoors adventures, it’s a great place to be able to experience many activities.

Hike Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls is located near Unicoi State Park. The falls are actually two individual waterfalls that join and they both originate from Tray Mountain. There is about a half mile hike from the parking area up to landing near the falls.

On the walk up, you get to experience a quiet coolness as you’re walking though the forest that’s only interrupted by the rumbling of water over the cliffs. It’s a great observatory of the changes that water makes to stone over time and you get to see so many different plant species along the way. I developed a love of photography over the last few years so I took my camera and enjoyed taking pictures of the waterfall from several different angles and trying to capture “different” pictures with every shot.

It’s a beautiful place to breathe in the natural beauty of earth and get in some exercise at the same time. A tip for the hike: make sure your shoes have good tread…the path can be a little slippery.

Photographed by Ronda Wright.

Visit a Winery

There are lots of vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms in and around Helen. With the climate and hilly geography in north Georgia, award-winning red, white, and rose’ wines are being made throughout this area. There are even a few wine tours in the area that will take you to multiple wineries a la Napa Valley style. While in the area, I chose to visit Kaya Vineyard and Winery. Due to COVID, they were not doing traditional tastings but I was able to purchase a wine that I wanted and relaxed on their super huge patio to drink it while I paired it with a charcuterie plate.

They have an absolutely amazing vineyard and the views of the mountains nearby are superb! It’s also an open vineyard, so I was able to walk throughout and relax with my glass of wine and take in the breathtaking views.

Photographed by Ronda Wright.

Overall, this little outing north was well worth it. I felt safe being mostly in outdoors environments and not in large crowds. Also it was great to be able to slow down and take my time in this old-styled Bavarian town. I’m so glad I made the decision to go!

Founder of The Wright Getaway

Hey, I'm Ronda Wright 👋🏽

I’m the founder of The Wright Getaway. I love all things travel and helping other people experience the world.

Let's chat about your upcoming travel plans!

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