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.
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash
A Little Slice of Germany in the North Georgia Mountains
Although Helen's Centennial celebration was in 2013, its German traditions do not go back quite as far as the town's origins. The area is rich in history, having been home to early Native American tribes, and a part of the first American Gold Rush. It wasn't until the late 1960s, however, that Helen began to transform into a replica of a Bavarian alpine town. With its logging industry in decline, the city wanted to find a way to remain vibrant and vital. In 1969, Helen's zoning codes required developers to use a classic southern style German design. Featuring steep gabled roofs, prominent latticework trim, bold colors, and winding cobblestone roads, visitors to Helen feel transported to another place in time.
But looks aren't everything. The city of Helen has taken its Alpine theme to heart, embracing German foods, traditions, culture, and celebrations all throughout the year. The year after the zoning decree took place, the town began to participate in the famous autumn festival of Bavarian cuisine and beer - Oktoberfest. Now, decades later, festivities increasingly bring forth the best Oktoberfest Helen GA has ever known.
Without question, for those interested in celebrating Oktoberfest, Helen GA is the place to go. The most famous festival of its kind in the southern United States, Helen's Oktoberfest runs from mid-September through the end of October each year. During the festivities, you can expect authentic Bavarian flavors, including Wurst, Schnitzel, Strudel, Pretzels, Sauerkraut, and of course, beer. The annual "Tapping of the Keg" occurs during the opening day parade, but live polka bands, dancing, and merriment arise in the loved Festhalle throughout the celebration.
5 Things Other Than Oktoberfest Where You Can Experience German Influence
Regardless of what time of year you choose to visit Helen, you will get a taste of the German lifestyle and heritage. When planning your visit to northern Georgia, be sure to experience the following celebrations, eateries, and attractions with German Influence:
If you can't make Oktoberfest Helen still offers plenty of German experiences during the winter months. Alpenfest occurs from mid-November through December, at which time the Alpine village transforms into a winter wonderland. Snow-capped roofs, Christmas lights and trees, a holiday parade, and the Christkindlmarket are the hallmarks of this particular time of year.
In German tradition, volksmarching ("the people's march") unities the young and the old in non-competitive walking for the sake of exercise and enjoying nature. Each spring, a volksmarch occurs in Unicoi State Park, where visitors and locals alike can enjoy a marked, 5k hike to take in the sights and sounds of plant and animal wildlife rebirthing after the cold winter months.
3. Bavarian Nights of Summer
During June and July you can experience the Bavarian Nights of Summer, which feature live musical performances, dancing, and friendly faces. Even though Helen celebrates German culture, it is still All-American, and its annual 4th of July festivities and fireworks display are must-attend events.
Whether you're visiting for Alpenfest or Oktoberfest Helen GA is home to some of the most authentic German eateries this side of the Atlantic. For fine German dining, try the Chef's Schnitzel at the Bodensee Restaurant. Those who are looking for something a bit more on the casual side will fall in love with the Cafe at Hofer's which features Wurst, Rueben sandwiches, and homemade German potato pancakes. Of course, the Old Heidelberg Restaurant, which is situated right in the center of town, always delights visitors with its traditional Bavarian decor, Goulash, and homemade apple strudel. For more mouthwatering tastes of Helen, view our restaurant guide.
5. Charlemagne's Kingdom
A fun spot to visit while in Helen, Charlemagne's Kingdom is an Alpine model railroad museum that houses HO scale German model railroad tracks. The 50-foot display will fascinate travelers who are interested in the terrain and architecture of Germany - namely, the lands which were ruled by Charlemagne in the 700's. Featuring hundreds of feet of railroad tracks, the details of the display are remarkable, and the 22 foot high "Matterhorn" towers over it all.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Which German traditions are you hoping to experience in Helen? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section of our blog!
The Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals team wants to make sure you're equipped with everything you need to take full advantage of the Oktoberfest. That's why we put together this 100% free guide for you! Download by clicking the below button and enjoy the festivities!
Stay In A Cabin During Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is a busy season in the city of Helen Georgia. If you'd like to enjoy the festivities and have a place to retreat nearby or further out, you have options with Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals. Click here to view our cabins and pick a property that will compliment your upcoming trip.
Our Additional Oktoberfest Content
We're here to help you have the best Oktoberfest ever! In the list below, you'll find articles, videos, and graphics from our Oktoberfest hub.
- This Year's Oktoberfest Schedule Of Events (Helen Georgia)
- What Is The Big Deal About Oktoberfest In Helen Georgia?
- How To Plan Your Trip To Oktoberfest In Helen Georgia
- The Best Places To Eat Like A German During Oktoberfest In Helen Georgia
- Consider One Of These Oktoberfest Adventures In Helen Georgia
- These Four Things Are Why Helen Is THE Place To Be For Oktoberfest
- Top 5 Places To Stay During Oktoberfest in Helen
- The Music Of Oktoberfest - Folk, Polka, Schlager and more!
- Do You Know Answers To These Ten Oktoberfest Questions?
- Fun Family Things to Do While In Helen At Oktoberfest
- Visit Scarecrow Trail And Other Halloween Attractions While In Helen Georgia