Nestled in North Georgia, the mountain town of Helen, Georgia, offers a unique blend of German culture and Southern charm. This alpine village is known for its Bavarian-style architecture, cobblestone streets, and epic Oktoberfest celebrations.
Visitors who desire a tranquil mountain getaway with access to modern amenities will love staying in Downtown Helen. The Bavarian village is packed with eateries, bars, shopping, and fun-filled entertainment. Set along the Chattahoochee River with the North Georgia mountains as your backdrop, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature while enjoying local German fare.
Blue Creek has you covered with your Helen cabin rental, and our visitor’s guide to the downtown area will give you everything you need to make the most of your time in the Blue Ridge Mountains!
The History of Downtown Helen
Photo Credit: PQK
So, how did a German town end up in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains? It all starts with the fascinating history of Helen, Georgia.
Originally a logging town in the 19th century, Helen heavily relied on lumbar as its primary industry. When the timber industry declined in the 1960s, locals decided to revitalize the city by attracting tourists to the mountain town.
Inspired by his time in Germany, a local artist named John Kollock sketched a Bavarian-style mountain valley village similar to those he had visited overseas. By the end of the 1960s, Helen began to transport from a sleepy logging community to a Bavarian village, attracting visitors from all around the country.
Today, Downtown Helen is one of the most visited cities in Georgia, attracting thousands of visitors year-round and during the infamous Oktoberfest season.
Helen, Georgia, is approximately two hours from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Those who are flying into Atlanta can rent a car from the airport to Helen, Georgia. The drive from the airport is scenic as you exit the city into the North Georgia mountains.
Other airports nearby include Chattanooga, TN (2.5 hours) and Knoxville, TN (3 hours).
Getting Around Helen and Beyond
Once in Downtown Helen, getting around by foot or bike is easy! Main Street runs right through Downtown and is home to some of the area's most popular restaurants, breweries, and shops.
You can also use your vehicle to get to various destinations when you visit Helen. Free public parking is available at the corner of Chattahoochee Strauss and Edelweiss Strauss.
There are Rideshare services available, such as Lyft and Uber, to take you from Downtown Helen to surrounding activities, such as hiking in the Chattahoochee National Forest, wine tasting, horseback riding, and other local outdoor adventures.
Things to do in Downtown Helen
Tube the Chattahoochee River
Photo Credit: BluIz60
Believe it or not, tubing down the Chattahoochee River is a semi-downtown activity and arguably one of Helen's most popular outdoor activities. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you’ll see fellow travelers “shooting the Hooch” all day, every day!
Cool River Tubing is a popular tubing company that offers multiple ride options that vary by distance, time, and price. Their tubing route will take you right through Downtown Helen, down the Chattahoochee River, and up through the North Georgia mountains.
Visit Helen’s Historic Sites
Photo Credit: Nolichuckyjake
There is no shortage of history found in the small village of Alpine Helen. We recommend visiting the Hardman Farm Historic Site just outside of Helen first. Hardman Farm is home to the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound, a historic landmark and burial ground for the Native American community. Visitors can also tour the Sautee Nachoochee Cultural Center, where you’ll learn more about the history of the mound.
Other famous historic sites nearby include the Unicoi County Heritage Museum, which features the county’s history in uniquely appointed rooms, and the Nora Mill Granary, an operational grist mill that can be found just outside of Downtown Helen.
Explore the Outdoors
Photo Credit: Fotoluminate LLC
The town of Helen and outdoor adventures go hand-in-hand. No matter what kind of adventure suits you best, you can find it here.
Looking for a thrill? Don’t miss out on Georgia Mountain Coaster, a rollercoaster that takes you right down the side of a mountain!
Feeling competitive? Helen boasts three different outdoor mini-golf courses, so there is ample opportunity to get your swing on. Check out Alpine Mini Golf, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, and Bavarian Mountain Mini Golf. Each golf course offers something a little different.
Places to Eat and Drink in Downtown Helen
Hofer’s Bakery and Cafe
Photo Credit: Steve Grundy via Flickr CC2.0
- Price Point: $$
- Address: 8758 N Main Street, Helen, GA
- Website: hofers.com
If you want to start your day on the right foot, there’s no better place than Hofer’s Bakery. Situated in the center of Downtown Helen, Hofer’s is known for its mixture of German and American breakfast classics. We recommend trying the Pregel & Lox with a side of freshly baked German bread.
Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese Cafe
- Price Point: $$
- Address: 60 Chattahoochee Strasse, Helen, GA
- Website: mullerscafe.com
This quaint cafe in the heart of Downtown does a great job of celebrating cheese as its main ingredient. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it's a convenient spot to grab a bite of German food with a Czech flare. What should you order? A good rule of thumb is to try anything with the word “fried cheese” in it!
Photo Credit: Stephanie Ovdiyenko via Flickr CC2.0
- Price Point: $$
- Address: 9001 N Main St, Helen, GA
- Website: hofbrauhaushelenga.net
Just on the edge of Downtown Helen lies Hofbrauhaus, a German-style restaurant that transports you right to Bavaria.
A staple in Helen, Hofbrauhaus is known for its authentic German food, where you can find everything from schnitzels to sauerkraut. We recommend trying a bowl of Goulash and a ‘platte’ to share.
Das Ice Cream Cafe
- Price Point: $
- Address: 705 Brucken Strasse Suite 108-A, Helen, GA 30545
- Website: dasicecreamcafe.com
It’s impossible to visit Downtown Helen and not make a stop at Das Ice Cream. This charming ice cream shop offers a little bit of everything: sundaes, milkshakes, and even alcohol-infused ice cream! With a mix of classic and seasonal flavors, there is always something new to try here.
It’s the ideal way to end your day of adventure in Downtown Helen. We have a feeling it might become a daily treat!
Enjoy Your Downtown Helen Adventures
Helen is surrounded by endless activities ranging from hiking trails to waterfalls to local wineries. But you don’t have to venture beyond Downtown Helen to experience the wonders of this charming mountain town.
We hope you enjoy discovering all of Downtown Helen's unique activities! Whether you are a history buff, foodie, or adventure enthusiast, an epic activity awaits you close to your Blue Creek Cabin.