Located in Georgia, Helen is a mountain town that is known for its diverse landscapes, Bavarian-style buildings, and for its many vineyards. There are also many fun family attractions and many historic sites and landmarks. Therefore, you will find something to interest you in this mountain town, regardless of your age or interests. If this is your destination of choice for a vacation, then you should plan your itinerary in advance to get the most out of your trip. Here are the 20 best things to do in Helen, GA, for first-timers to help you decide which activities and attractions to include in your trip.
20. Visit Babyland General Hospital
One of the more unusual things that Helen is famous for is Babyland General Hospital, says Explore Georgia. This is home to the factory that produces the Cabbage Patch Dolls brand, which was founded by Xavier Roberts. Visitors to this doll factory can see where the Cabbage Patch Dolls are born. There is also a museum dedicated to the brand and a store where you can buy the dolls. There are also celebrity photos covering the walls for you to look at. Admission to Babyland General Hospital is free, so it is an activity worth considering if you are visiting Helen on a budget.
19. Try Mining for Gems
A fun activity for all the family is mining for gems. Originally, Helen was a mining town, and there are still many mines in the area. It is possible to take your kids to some of the mines to try mining for rocks and gems. One company that runs mining activities for families is Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines, and they run Outpost Gold, which is close to the Helen Welcome Center in downtown Helen. Visitors can sift through buckets looking for gold, sapphire, quartz, ruby, and amethyst. They can also mine for fossils or break apart a geode. This is an activity that is both fun and educational.
18. Sample the Goods at Hansel and Gretel’s Chocolate Shop
DQ Travel says that no trip to Helen is complete without a visit to the Hansel and Gretel Chocolate Shop. At this shop, you can sit and watch the workers creating candies, fudge, truffles, and chocolate. If you are lucky, you will get some free samples to try to help you decide what to buy. It is hard to resist treating yourself to some goodies to take home.
17. Take an Alpine Carriage Ride
If you want to enjoy a new experience while you are in Helen, then a memorable activity is taking an Alpine carriage ride. This involves enjoying a ride in a horse-drawn carriage for a tour of the town and the surrounding area. It is an unusual way to see the sights, and it is suitable for people of all ages. You may wish to take along your camera as you will pass by some of the local landmarks and through stunning scenery. This is much more fun than simply walking around the area to see the sights.
16. Walk the Hardman to Helen Trail
Those who enjoy spending time outdoors but find some of the hiking trails challenging should walk the Hardman to Helen Trail. This is one of the least challenging trails as it is a paved walkway that covers a mere one mile. The trail begins at Harman Farm and leads to downtown Helen. Along the way, there are some points of interest, including the Nora Mill Granary, and there are some terrific views. As the trail is paved, it is also suitable for cycling or taking along the kids’ scooters.
15. Take the Kids to a Mini-Golf Course
If you have children traveling with you, a great activity for some simple family-fun is a round of mini-golf. One of the best places to visit is the Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, which is an 18-hole course with caves and waterfalls. Another fun place to visit is the Bavarian Mountain Golf Course. This has two 18-hole courses to choose between, both of which have stunning views. At this attraction, there are also other things to enjoy, including ski ball, arcade games, air hockey, and billiards. Even if you are not in Helen with children, mini-golf is a fun activity that adults can enjoy.
14. Go Horseback Riding
An interesting way to see the beauty of the outdoors surrounding Helen is to go horseback riding. This is a fantastic activity for both animal lovers and those who enjoy spending time outdoors. If you want to give horseback riding a go, head to Chattahoochee Stables. There is no age limit for this activity, as children under five simply ride with an adult. The trips leave the stables every hour, and the trail ride is 1.5 miles long and goes along the banks for the river. There is an opportunity to feed the horses at the end of the ride.
13. Have Fun at Helen Waterpark
One of the top attractions for families is Helen Waterpark. There is lots of fun you can have at this attraction, which features a 1,000-foot lazy river and four water slides. This is an outdoor attraction, so it is best to visit on a hot day as it is somewhere you can cool off while having plenty of family fun. You will need at least half a day to get the most out of this activity.
12. Go to Nora Mill Granary
An interesting place to visit is the Nora Mill Granary. This is a working grit mill in downtown Helen that produces fresh goods for visitors to purchase. Watching the mill in operation and viewing the dam is fascinating. The mill is free to visit, although it is likely that you will spend money buying goods while you are there.
11. Visit the Sautee Nacoochee Center
If you are interested in the arts and culture, then the top attraction in Helen is the Sautee Nacoochee Center. This attraction is part of the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association, which is an organization that aims to promote the education and exploration of arts and history. The Sautee Nacoochee Center includes a folk-art pottery museum, an art gallery, an environmental educational resource center, a dance and art studio, a history museum, and a theater. It is a fantastic place to appreciate the arts and to also learn about the history of the area.
10. Take a Tour of Habersham Winery
Helen is famous for its wineries and vineyards, so these are something that you should try to incorporate in your vacation itinerary. One of the best places to visit is Habersham Winery, as this is one of the largest and oldest wineries in Georgia. It is located in downtown Helen, and visitors can take a tour of the winery. They will then enjoy a wine tasting of the five wines produced by this winery, and all visitors receive a souvenir wine glass. This is an activity for people aged 21 or over, due to the nature of the attraction.
9. See the Exhibits at Charlemagne’s Kingdom
Located in downtown Helen, Charlemagne’s Kingdom is an Alpine model railroad museum. The huge exhibition depicts the architecture and terrain of the German countryside. There is a 50-foot model railroad that is set in the North Sea of Germany. It is a unique attraction, and you will see nothing quite like it anywhere else you visit. If you have taken your children along to this attraction, make sure they do not miss out of the fun scavenger hunt that they can take part in during a visit. Although there is a fee to enter, it is a relatively cheap attraction to visit, so it is a good option for people with a limited budget.
8. Ride the Georgia Mountain Coaster
One of the most recent addition to the attractions in Helen is the Georgia Mountain Coaster. This is a thrilling ride with an Alpine theme that is fun, fast, and family-friendly. You will find this exciting roller coaster by the stairs next to Paul’s on the River. If you want to have a second turn on the Georgia Mountain coaster, all second rides are half price. Children must measure 38-inchesin height to go on the ride.
7. Try Bavarian Fare at Bodonsee
German heritage is evident in many aspects of Helen, including its heritage. There are also many restaurants that reflect the heritage of the town, serving Bavarian food. You will find multiple eateries where you can try Bavarian cuisine in Helen, but 10 Best recommends a meal at Bodonsee. This restaurant has a fantastic ambiance that is equally suitable for a romantic date night or for family dining. It is known for serving huge portions of German fare, and it is one of the most popular venues amongst the locals.
6. Shop in Downtown Helen
Downtown Helen is probably different from any other downtown area in the United States you will have seen before as it is like stepping into a German village. The picturesque main street is filled with colorful Bavarian-style buildings. You will find a combination of specialty shops, small attractions, landscaped areas, and hidden alleyways. Some of the highlights include the glassblowing shop, Notre Gift and Art Studio, the Christmas Shoppe, and the Alpine Festival of Craft and Arts. This is also where you will find many of the town’s restaurants. Therefore, you can enjoy a spot of retail therapy before grabbing a bite to eat.
5. See Anna Ruby Falls
Helen is famous for its waterfalls, and the most popular of these is Anna Ruby Falls. This consists of two waterfalls at the confluence of two rivers. The falls create Smith Creek, which fills the lake at Unicoi State Park. This is not the only waterfall you can visit as there is also Raven Cliff Falls, Dukes Creek Falls, DeSoto Falls, and Horse Trough Falls. When visiting any of the waterfalls in Helen or the surrounding area, you should take along your camera to capture the spectacular sights.
4. Go Tubing Through the Center of Town
Explore Georgia recommends going tubing through the center of town. The Chattahoochee River runs through the center of Helen, and tubing is a fun activity that you can enjoy that also allows you to enjoy your surroundings.
3. Visit Unicoi State Park
Unicoi State Park is a beautiful place to visit, and just like Smithgall Woods State Park, there are outdoor activities galore for you to enjoy. Some of these include hiking, fishing, swimming, walking, boating, and canoeing. There is plenty to explore, and you can even hire a lodge to stay in the park along with a campground. Unicoi State Park is also a great place to have some fun as it is home to the American Adventure Park, where you can enjoy ziplining and aerial obstacle courses.
2. Go to Hardman Farm
Hardman Farm is the newest Georgia State Park Historic Site. This attraction covers 173-acres, and it features a dairy barn built in 1870 and an Italianate architected house that was home to Anna Ruby’s family. This site also has a burial site called Nacooche Mound, which was used even before the Cherokee inhabited this town. This is an interesting site to explore if you are interested in the history of the area.
1. Explore Smithgall Woods State Park
According to 365 Atlanta Traveler, the best thing to do in Helen, GA, for first-timers is to explore Smithgall Woods State Park. It is one of two state parks in Helen, and it has trails, unique cottages, a creek, and waterfalls. Some of the things to do in the park are ranger programs, geo-caching, trout fishing, and hiking. This is one of the most beautiful spots surrounding Helen.
Written by Liz Flynn
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