Exploring Helen, Georgia

The Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals Blog

This Month's Travel Content Roundup

Photo courtesy of The Gaurdian, Richrd Pennington/Photocrowd.com

We've gathered and shared travel content from around the web. As always, you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest to get this news when we first post it.

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Helen Georgia Is The Best Little German Town In America — But It Wasn’t Always This Way

A lot of people don't know this, but Helen is actually the third most-visited town in Georgia, only beat out by Atlanta and Savannah. That's pretty good for the best little German town in America with a population of only 543 people!

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However, Helen wasn't always known for its German roots. The area has known plenty of ups and downs since its settlement, from the beginnings of American colonization, all the way to the present day.

Let’s take a deep dive and find out what makes Helen Georgia so special, the journey through history, and a brief survey of things to do in the area.

Quick Facts About The City Of Helen, Georgia

History: How Helen Came To Be

The town of Helen has a unique history among the many mountain towns set among the Appalachian foothills. Helen also has deep Native American roots, a rich history as a logging town and is now known for its Bavarian style and culture. Exploring the town and the surrounding area gives you a glimpse into this town's rich history.

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Cherokee Natives & The First Gold Rush Launch The 1800’s

Like most of northern Georgia, Helen was home to the Cherokee nation prior to the arrival of European settlers in the 1800’s. You can still feel the Cherokee influence today in place names and other historical sites like the Track Rock Gap petroglyph site.

For many years, settlers and the Cherokees worked together. In 1813, the Cherokee Nation approved the construction of the Unicoi Turnpike, a wagon road through their territory leading from the Savannah River headwaters northeast into Tennessee. Highways 17 and 75 now sit where the old road used to be. Sadly, the Cherokee nation was forcibly displaced later that century with some limited influence in the present day.

Shortly after, Gold became a transformational force. America’s first gold rush didn't start in California, it started in 1828 when gold was discovered in the Nacoochee-Helen Valley (5 miles southeast of Helen Georgia). Miners worked the land extensively including the current site of the historic England Gold Mine, the site of Helen's current gold mine.

With the discovery of gold in the Nacoochee Valley the resulting less-well-known Georgia Gold Rush brought a huge rush of settlers and opportunists, who quickly established towns and settlements across the area. Prospectors worked the hills around Georgia for nearly a century in the pursuit of this precious metal. The gold rush ended when miners hightailed it west leaving Helen to fend for itself.

While that gold boom died off relatively quickly, the area that would become Helen lived on as a mining center throughout the Civil War. While relatively untouched by the war itself, the Helen area fell into anarchy during The Reconstruction, until rediscovering itself as a forestry center at the end of the 19th Century. Sawmills rose up and the railroad came to town as well.

Helen itself came into being in 1913, named for the daughter of a railroad surveyor looking to bring more rail lines into the area.

The Early & Mid 1900’s

For the next several decades, Helen operated as a dedicated logging town. The logging industry kept Helen at the center of commerce in Georgia with the Matthews Lumber Company sawmill leading the boom.

But by the 1930s, the timber company and the sawmill abandoned the town of Helen and residents left for other opportunities. Helen might have folded, except the Federal government created the Chattahoochee National Forest, bringing both tourism and additional lumber opportunities to Helen through the 1950s.

In the late 50s and into the 60s, Helen went into a new decline. There was less demand for lumber with the rise of plastics, and tourism was dropping off as well.  Facing a town in trouble, civic leaders conceived of an audacious plan that turned Helen into the beautiful attraction we love today.

1968:  The Year We Turned German

Not enough to stop potential economic ruin, town leaders got together in 1968 and proposed turning their town into a recreation of a Bavarian alpine village complete with gingerbread trim, cobblestone alleyways, and old-world towers. It would become a destination city, and one now famously known.

The Two major local businessmen - Pete Hodkinson and Jimmy Wilkins - found a way to uplift their town after hearing of a nearby town finding success by renovating and updating their downtown storefronts.

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Hodkinson and Wilkins took it a step further by hiring a local artist, John Kollack, who had German roots and had spent quite a bit of time in Bavaria. His mission?  To redesign the entire town to resemble that of an Alpine mountain town, bringing the Alps to the Appalachians. Given the strong influence of German settlers on the history of the area, it was a natural fit.

The revamp brought a facelift to the entire town. Besides agreeing on a common color scheme for Helen and basing the new store facades around it, the revamp extended even to the street names, changed to mirror common streets found in Germany.

Practically overnight, Helen became the best little German town in America, from the stores to the cobblestones.

The experiment was a near-immediate success. By 1972, the reinvention of Helen had already significantly boosted its tourist revenues, and in 1976, the Federal government was sending economic experts to study Helen's amazingly rapid revitalization.

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Helen Today: The Best Of Germany, In Georgia's Backyard

The Helen of today harkens back to a much earlier time and celebrates its new Bavarian heritage with several German and alpine-inspired festivals each year.

From 1972 onwards, Oktoberfest (which runs from September through October) has been an annual tradition in Helen, creating one of the best celebrations of German culture anywhere in America. In fact, Oktoberfest in Helen is the longest in the nation, running for nearly six weeks from mid-September to the end of October. It's beer, brats, drinking songs, polkas, and all the lederhosen you could ask for!

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Millions of people come and enjoy the unique experience that Helen presents - the beauty and charm of an authentic Alpine mountain town, nestled among America's most beautiful peaks alongside the historic Chattahoochee River.

Helen attracts some the brightest from Germany and elsewhere across the Alps, with a number of Master Chefs relocating to the area to open their own authentic restaurants. Locations like the Haubrauhaus or the Bodensee bring Helen authentic cuisine that can only be found in a few other places this side of Europe.

Helen really is the best little German town in America, and we're proud to be part of that long heritage!

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The City of Helen Has A Perfect Small Town Feel

When you visit Alpine Helen, you will feel as though you have taken a step back through time. This quaint area is fashioned after an old world German Alpine village. The cobblestone alleys and winding towers will make you feel as though you have left the states. Here, you will also be able to enjoy a wide variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment.

This charming area is always celebrating something the whole year long. There are fourth of July festivities and the Bavarian Nights of Summer. An annual hot air balloon race is fun for the whole family. Winefest is another favorite. For a winter wonderland, be sure to check out Alpenfest which kicks off each Thanksgiving and runs through December.

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The most popular of Alpine Helen's festivals, to be sure, is its Oktoberfest. This celebration of German culture is the longest running of its kind in the south. You will enjoy authentic German food, parades, drinks, and live entertainment. Who says a small town has to be dull?

For the perfect small town feeling vacation that will offer you and your entire group something fun to do, a cabin vacation in Helen is just what you need. Here, you will find the perfect blend of fun and relaxation. Slow down for a while and enjoy a vacation that really gets you away from it all.


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Things To Do In & Around Helen Georgia

If you have ever passed through a small town, you know how charming and peaceful they can be. The idea of vacationing in a small town, however, never seems to cross our minds.

Part of that whole small town appeal is the simplicity of it all. What could be more simplistic than being one with nature? Whether you are on a family vacation, a romantic getaway with your sweetie, or a fun trip with friends, the whole group will be able to enjoy the peaceful, back-to-basics environment around your cabin.

Nothing could be more relaxing than an afternoon of floating lazily down the Chattahoochee River on a tubing adventure or spending the day on a serene fishing trip. You can plan a day hike that will lead you to majestic waterfalls and allow you to explore the plants and wildlife of the forest around you. You will truly feel that you have gotten away from all of the madness of everyday life and stepped into a simpler, quieter world.

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The enduring qualities of this alpine city continue to endure, including the following fun activities:

  • Floating down the Chattahoochee River.
  • Hiking to the famous Anna Ruby Falls, a double waterfall, as one of many hiking locations.
  • Participate in one of the many festivals each year, especially Oktoberfest.
  • Take a carriage ride through the rustic, old-world streets.
  • Go horseback riding through the forest.
  • Sip on local wines.
  • Golf, shop, dine and so much more!
  • Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals!

Helen is a special place. Its history reveals a constant recognition of the beauty of the landscape and the integrity of the people. As a haven for vacationers, the Alpine village of Helen has over 200 establishments, consisting of gift shops, specialty stores, galleries, and restaurants.

Besides its amenities, Helen offers memorable festivities throughout the year. It holds various events like the Winefest, the Hot Air Balloon Race and Festival, Volksmarch, and Independence Day fireworks. Music enthusiasts also flock to Helen for the three-month-long Oktoberfest (which runs from September to November). Christmas parades, the Alpenfest, and the Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas market) are organized during the holiday season.

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Moreover, tourists can drop by the Helen Arts & Heritage Center, Helen Amusement Park, Charlemagne's Kingdom, Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines, Nora Mill Granary, Habersham Winery, and the Folk Pottery Museum. They can also spend time at Lake Burton, Unicoi State Park, Chattahoochee National Forest, and the Black Forest Bear Park.

Aside from shopping and sightseeing, Helen visitors can experience more outdoor fun by canoeing and river tubing on the Chattahoochee River. They can also hike at the Brasstown Bald Mountains. Golf lovers can play at the Alpine Helen Mini-Golf or at the Pirate Cove Adventure Golf. They can likewise go horseback riding, camping, and fishing in nearby forests, rivers, and waterfalls. At the end of a busy day, tourists can relax in their luxury cabin, reflecting on a beautiful and fun-filled day!

Get Creative When The Weather Arrives With You

No matter how much time and effort you put into planning for your vacation, there will always be elements that are out of your control. How can you know what the weather will be like before you leave for your trip? On getaways to the beach or a large outdoor attraction, your plans can be easily foiled by mother nature, leaving you trapped inside your hotel. Flexibility is just one of the greatest advantages of staying in one of our cabins. Helen is full of fun and exciting things to do both outdoors and inside, so you can have a great vacation rain or shine!

Even when it's raining outside, you don't have to stay confined to the cabins. Helen offers plenty of great indoor activities like painting your own pottery at The Willows Pottery in Nacoochee Village. Stay warm and dry as you bring out your creative side and make your own custom work of art. You can choose from a wide variety of pottery types to decorate for your self including mugs, bowls, casserole dishes, wine coolers, tiles, plates, goblets, and more! No appointment is necessary, so you can make plans for you and your group to come in, or simply stop by on the fly. The professionals at The Willows Pottery will fire your pieces and you can either pick them up in two weeks or if you are heading home sooner, your custom pottery can be shipped to your home.

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Relive the Past

In addition to the gold rush, there is so much more history to be discovered near your cabins. Helen is loaded with rich culture and a visit to the Sautee Nacoochee History Museum will reveal some of the areas interesting past to you. The museum features numerous artifacts which were recovered from the Helen area. You will learn all about the fascinating history of the Cherokee Indians who once inhabited the area. As you pass through the museum, you will be transported through time all the way to present day Sautee Nacoochee.

Enjoy Local Art

Visiting the Georgia Heritage Arts Association is another great way to spend your time. Helen is home to this cultural hub which has been operating for over twelve years. Here you will enjoy a wide variety of exhibits created by local Georgia artists.

The Gourd Place located in Sautee is also a fun place to stop for local art. Creative energy is channeled into beautiful crafts and works of art. You will see all kinds of wonderful pieces crafted from gourds including dolls, rolling toys, plant holders, calligraphy gourds, masks, ornaments, drums, and so much more! The Gourd place features a museum and a retail shop so that you can take some of these delightful pieces home with you.

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Explore Nacoochee Village (At The Edge Of Helen)

Near Helen is an adorable day trip destination by the name of Nacoochee Village. This charming village will allow you to spend some time in "civilization" without the hustle and bustle of big city chaos. For the shoppers in the bunch, there are plenty of opportunities at Nacoochee Village's many boutiques and antique stores.

You can watch the potters at work, or join in at the Willows Pottery. For a day of wine tasting, try Habersham Winery. And for those looking for some friendly small town advice on river activities like boating and fishing, stop at Unicoi Outfitters. They can teach you everything you need to know and set you up with the equipment you need to do it.

Revisiting This Unique & Popular City

Why do you come back to Helen year after year? Is it the fall foliage or hot air balloon races? Maybe you are drawn by the longest Oktoberfest celebration in the world. Helen has become a top tourist destination in Georgia for several reasons including its history, charm, proximity to recreational activities and local culture.

Helpful Helen Georgia Links 

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Stay In A Cabin On Your Next Visit To The City of Helen Georgia

Vacation is all about rest and relaxation, so why not pamper yourself while staying at our cabins? Helen is located near to the Nacoochee Crossing Wellness Center where you can receive massage and spa treatments that will bring you to a state of total serenity and relaxation. One of Nacoochee Crossing's most popular packages offers a full hour relaxation massage followed by an anti-stress facial and a citrus body polish.

Who's to say that you can't have a great time inside the cabins? Cabins with luxury amenities are perfect for families, couples, or groups of friends looking to have fun - rain or shine. Even if the weather is less than ideal, you can still enjoy your time together playing on game tables, watching a movie on your big screen TV, cooking a romantic meal, and so much more. And you can relax even further with your own private hot tub or Jacuzzi bath.

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Share Your Thoughts Below

What appeals to you most about a visit to Helen? What is the most relaxing part of a Georgia mountain vacation to you? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section of our blog.

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Do You Know Answers To These Ten Oktoberfest Questions?

Fall has arrived in northern Georgia, and that means that visitors are flocking to the area to celebrate Oktoberfest Helen!

Hoist a pint, join the parade and eat a brat when you head to Helen this fall. Oktoberfest in Helen is the longest running Oktoberfest celebration in the world and starts in mid-September running through the end of October. There is nothing quite like experiencing the traditional German fall festival and celebration in Helen. What you find at the Oktoberfest in Germany is what you’ll find right here in Helen Gerogia.

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These Four Things Are Why Helen Is THE Place To Be For Oktoberfest

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Oktoberfest has been a staple of Bavarian culture for more than 200 years. There is no better place to celebrate this tradition than Helen, Georgia, home of the longest Oktoberfest celebration in the world.

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5 Ways You Can Experience German Influence in Helen Georgia

When you're driving up Georgia's I-75 into the scenic north Georgia mountains, the last thing you might expect to see is a German Alpine village. Known for its charming Bavarian culture, Helen is truly a place like no other. But how did this city come to be in the middle of the Chattahoochee National Forest, anyway? And how can you experience the rich German heritage during your next visit? Here's your guide to the village's history, and all that there is to see and do.

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3 Amazing Natural Wonders In The North Georgia Mountains

Georgia is full of natural beauty and wonders. As you travel through the north Georgia mountains you can step into picturesque places that will take your breath away. Here are just a few of the magnificent natural wonders that are awaiting you in the north Georgia mountains near Helen.

Tallulah Falls and Gorge
Located in Tallulah Gorge State Park and only 30 miles from Helen, this park offers brilliant views and lots of activities for visitors. With it's Native American name, Tallulah has been a tourist destination for hundreds of years. Back in the early 1900s as the city of Atlanta was expanding, Georgia Power took interest in this waterfall and completed a dam to conserve it's power in 1913. Although this changed the purpose of the falls, the beauty was preserved.

There are five waterfalls that make up this beauty; Ladore, Tempesta, Hurricane, Oceana and Bridal Veil. To see the splendor of these falls there a few options. You can hike the rim trails to reach various overlooks along the way or for the brave there is a suspension bridge which sways 80 feet above the surface of the gorge. There is also a paved trail for those who prefer a more gentle stroll of the area. 

If you are seeking adventure show up early and get a Gorge Floor Access permit. There are only 100 issued per day and they are given on a first come first serve basis, prior to 3pm. This strenuous trek will take you down 531 stairs to the gorge floor where you can cross the river, climb the boulders or go for a swim. To see the beauty of Tallulah Gorge State Park, there is a small $4 daily fee or camp out in a tent or RV for only $10 or $12 respectively.

Amicalola Falls
When you head to Amicalola Falls get ready to be captivated, as it is the highest waterfall in Georgia. This stunning waterfall cascades down for 729 feet. It's name Amicalola Falls describes it best, which in Cherokee means "tumbling waters". 

This amazing natural wonder is located in the north Georgia mountains only 45 miles west of Helen. There are a few ways to see this waterfall. For anyone with physical limitations there is a beautiful spot located on the trail below that offers magnificent views. This area is also wheelchair accessible.

For a closer look and a bit more exertion, you can make your way up 604 stairs to reach the overlook at the top of the waterfall. This is also a great choice for those looking to get an extra punch on their Canyon Climber's Club Card. Along the way, you can rest and take photos at the first landing located at the 175 stair marker. Either way you choose to view this magnificent waterfall, you will be glad you did.

Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain, although not technically in the north Georgia mountains, is one of the most popular natural wonders in Georgia.  Stone Mountain is located in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, only 1.5 hours from Helen. This mountain is the world's largest exposed mass of granite and is full of history. The mountain was first used as a ceremonial place for Native Americans, namely the Cherokees. This was before the signing of the 1821 Treaty of Indian Springs when Stone Mountain became a settlement for European Americans. Then, in the 1850s as the mountain became more well known, it transformed into a tourist resort. 

Today, the mountain welcomes millions of visitors each year and an entire adventure park has been built around it. It hosts the Geyser Tower, the Skyhike, the Summit Skyride and a scenic railroad. You can enjoy all of this plus much more for a daily pass fee of $28 for adults and $22 for children. 

If you prefer, you can escape the crowds and pay only the $10 parking fee. This gives you access to numerous hiking trails around the mountain which are excellent for both the beginner and experienced hiker. For this small fee, your children can also enjoy the playground, picnic areas, Quarry Exhibit and the Education Center. If you stay into the evening hours you can also see the brilliant display of the Lasershow Spectacular. 

Whether you choose to see one of these natural wonders or all of them, you will be glad you made the trip. Pack up your family and head into the north Georgia mountains for picturesque views and memories that are sure to last a lifetime. Have you witnessed the beauty of any of Georgia's natural wonders before?  Let us know your favorite spots in the comments below.

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Remember Forever Your Stay At Cabin Rentals In Ga

Have you been having as much fun with your kids as you would like? As many parents know all-too well, the years fly by, and your children grow up too fast. Because of this, it's very important to embrace the time that you have, and create happy memories that will last for a lifetime. By planning a vacation in the cabin rentals in GA, you will be able to play, explore, and grow closer to your nearest and dearest, so that you can always look back on those moments and remember the love that you have for one another. 

Remember the Experiences

Don't let your vacation time waste away by catching up on household chores or sitting around watching TV. You can do those things anytime, but the experiences that are to be had in northern Georgia are something special. During your stay in the cabin rentals in Helen GA, you'll be close to numerous attractions that will enable you to do something new together. There's nothing that gets the kids more excited and full of smiles than seeing Mom and Dad try out something that they never imagined possible. Imagine the look of surprise on your child's face as you get strapped up to a harness and enjoy an exciting zipline tour over the gorgeous Sautee-Nacoochee Valley. Or what about making the decision to take a fly-fishing lesson as a family at Unicoi Outfitters, or creating your own souvenirs by painting ceramic plates, vases, and more at The Willows Pottery? These are the experiences and moments in time that are made into lasting memories. 

Remember the Sights

We all need a little change of scenery from time to time, and there's no better place to go for beautiful views than northern Georgia. Whether you are out hiking on a trail, or are simply having a family dinner on the porch of one of the cozy cabin rentals in GA, you will have the opportunity to gaze out onto breathtaking sights that you will never forget. From your cabin, you can choose to stay in a wooded area where you may try to spot deer, fox, or wild birds, or you could choose to rent a vacation home with a mountain, waterfall, or creekside view.

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Exploring Helen, Georgia's Four Seasons With Things To Do In The Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall

Choosing Helen Georgia is a perfect vacation option regardless of the season. There's a wealth of exciting adventures and amazing recreational opportunities awaiting guests in the mountains of North Georgia.

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What Types Of Cabins In Georgia You Could Stay In

Regardless of whether you are planning a romanic getaway for two or a full-blown family reunion, one of the biggest challenges associated with organizing a trip is finding the right accommodations. How will you find the perfect spot that will provide a fun and luxurious atmosphere for the whole group that will also meet the individual needs of everyone?

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Zip Lining Your Way To Fun In North Georgia: History, Safety, & Operators

Have you ever wanted to feel like you are flying through the air? Have you imagined feeling the wind across your face and watching the scenery behind you disappear as you sail across the landscape below? Unfortunately, most people keep their feet on the ground and miss fulfilling the fantasy of flight.

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