Spring has officially sprung, which means saying “so long!” to chilly temperatures, unexpected snowstorms and all those other too-recent weather incidents that belong squarely in the rear-view mirror.
An opportunity to get out and enjoy a fun community like Helen is the perfect way to warm up body and soul and welcome a new season.
Whether you’ve never had the pleasure or have been visiting for years, this special community is a beautiful spot to catch up on your sunshine, your shopping and your sightseeing. Odds are your smile will return too.
Helen, which is in the heart of Georgia’s White County, is only about 90 minutes north of Atlanta, so it makes an quick-and-easy scenic weekend road trip or maybe a special mid-weekend getaway. There’s enough to see and do so it’s an excellent destination for couples or even the whole family.
Here’s what makes it such a fun spot to visit:
· Bavarian theme.
In the late 1960s, town officials decided that being just another rural mountain town wasn’t an ideal way to attract much-needed visitors, so they created a plan to transform Helen into a quaint Bavarian community. This included architecture, culture, even food, making a trip here almost like a visit to the Old Country, or maybe even better, since everyone speaks the same language, uses the same money, and no passport is necessary.
The festive theme continues to draw in visitors all year long, and Alpine Helen has now become one of the state’s top tourist destinations.
· Spring is an ideal time to visit.
Summer sees busy days in White County, and fall can get even busier especially during the bustling Oktoberfest weekends when the good times truly get rolling. Winter can also see lots of people looking for easy getaways and the Christmas crowds, so spring may very well be the best time of the year to visit. Things are in bloom, birds are singing, the kids are still in school so crowds are smaller, and summer rates and lack of vacancies haven’t kicked in yet.
· Natural wonders.
Alpine Helen is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and near the town you’ll find the Chattahoochee National Forest and the headwaters of the scenic Chattahoochee River, known for great fishing opportunities. There are some breathtaking attractions such as Anna Ruby Falls, a 150-foot cascade of water.
There are hundreds of miles of hiking and cycling trails in the region as well, making it easy to check out the fun attractions of the town and then switch to the great outdoors. It’s right along the Appalachian Trail too.
· Fun for kids.
Near Helen is the community of Cleveland. It’s the county seat but also the official birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids. Little ones who love these unique dolls – or even grown-up who may have loved them when they were a child – may like seeing where these lovable creations come from: a fun and fanciful place called Babyland General Hospital, where you can actually see one come into the world, right from the vegetable garden, of course. This can be a perfect lifetime memory for a kiddo who may not yet fully appreciate the architecture or variety of big-people stores in Helen or the lush scenery. Admission is free, making it even more appealing.
· Lots of lodging.
A trip to Helen doesn’t mean spending the night in a non-descript, no frills hotel. Here, because it’s such a tourism destination, visitors have all sorts of places to choose from to lay their heads, from bed and breakfasts to campgrounds to vacation rentals and condos. Cabins are especially fun, which offer luxury accommodations in a calm and peaceful setting. Though they are in a rustic location, they have all the comforts of home, such as hot tubs, Wi-Fi, and cable TV. Cabins are great places to get away and start reconnecting.
Thankfully, there’s no mall nearby, although there is a Wal-Mart in Cleveland. But a big chunk of the retailers in Helen are all local. There are more than 200 vendors of handicrafts, gifts, home décor, toys, and even a couple of Christmas stores that are fun to browse all year round.
There are also art galleries featuring talented local visual artists to appreciate as well, one-of-a-kind jewelry, pottery and more.
All that sightseeing will soon be bringing on the hunger, so it’s convenient that there are dozens of tasty offerings, from fine dining restaurants to great places to start your day with a hearty breakfast.
Overall, if you’ve been searching for a lovely spring destination, then Helen welcomes you – or make that “Wilkommen.”