50 Free and Fun Things to do in Helen Georgia


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Welcome to Helen, Georgia–a cute, German town nestled against the Chattahoochee River in the USA’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Although it covers only two square miles and has a population of just 430 residents, Alpine Helen continuously ranks as the third most visited city in the state. The charming little village is best known for its Bavarian architecture, specialty shops, and authentic German dining. It’s small in size but so big in heart, so there’s an endless amount of things to do in Helen. Here’s our 50 favorite:

50 Things to Do in Helen, GA – the Best Attractions

Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions

 

Our 11 Favorite Free Things to Do in the Alpine Village of Helen, GA

The Alpine Village is the most popular area of Helen, Georgia and the primary reason most tourists venture to this tiny little town hidden away at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are plenty of free things to do while strolling through the German shops and plaza. You’ll want to check out the famous windmill, see live demonstrations by local artisans and craftsmen, sample free candy, admire the art galleries, or perhaps take a relaxing walk along the riverfront or nearby park. These free activities make up the first 11 entries of our top 50 list of things to do in Helen, GA.

1) See the working windmill at the Heidi Motel and Windmill Suites.

Windmill in Helen GA at Heidi Motel and Windmill Suites

It’s one of the oldest as well as most photographed landmarks in Alpine Helen, GA, so go ahead and take that selfie. And if you’d like to stay the night here, Heidi’s is the only motel in the area where you can stay in an authentic windmill suite.

Watch Free Live Demonstrations in Helen Alpine Village

2) Watch bees at work making honey at the live beehive inside Betty’s Country Store (and then purchase some fresh, local honey to take home with you)

Beehive in Betty's Country Store Helen, GA Attractions & Things to Do

3) Watch live glassblowing demonstrations at the Glassblowing Shop.

4) Watch hand hewn wooden bowls being made at Wright the Bowl Maker.

Wright the Bowl Maker - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions

5) Watch toys being made at Tim’s Wooden Toys.

6) Watch candy being made at Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen (and get free samples).

7) Watch a pottery demonstration at the Willows Pottery.

The Willows Pottery - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions
Photo Used with Permission by Alpine Helen White County Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Willows Pottery is located about a half mile south of the main shops of the Alpine Helen Village. You can find them inside the Historic Nacoochee Village.

Art Education – Free Galleries and Museums in Helen, Georgia

  • 8) Charlemagne’s Kingdom

At this Alpine Model Railroad Museum, you can see the recreation of a German town, complete with a functioning railroad. The impressive, 50-foot exhibit details Germany’s terrain from the North Sea to the Alps.

  • 9) Helen Arts & Heritage Center

The Helen Arts and Heritage Center is an art gallery and education facility as well as a history museum. They offer classes and workshops in pottery, wood carving, painting, jewelry-making, and other crafts. Art exhibits are open to the public and completely free to attend, but classes will require an additional fee.

Helen Arts and Heritage Center
25 Chattahoochee Strasse
Helen, GA 30545

  • 10) Alpine Festival of Arts & Crafts

Located in the Gesellschaft Haus underground mall, the Alpine Festival of Arts and Crafts displays and sells local paintings as well as other artwork and crafts. With over 5,000 square feet of merchandise, they’re the largest craft shop in Helen. It costs nothing to walk through the store to look at all the art, so we always visit it each time we take a trip to the Alpine Village.

Alpine Festival of Arts and Crafts
8600 N. Main Street
Helen, GA 30545

The Chattahoochee River

  • 11) Go for a scenic walk along the riverfront.

Tubing down the river is a popular activity in Helen, but if you’d like to save money, you can just walk along the river for completely free. There are even some areas where a sidewalk or paved path runs along the river’s edge. There are also lots of rocks that serve as popular spots for people to sit to fish or just relax and watch the tubers float by. (Alternatively, you can also take a stroll down a walking trail of the local park, but you’ll see more details for that entry in our Outdoors Activities in Helen section listed a little further below in this article.)

 

Other Fun Things to Do in Alpine Helen Village

These activities might cost you a handful of your pretty pennies, but if you’ve got a few dollars to spend, we think they’re well worth it.

Shopping in Helen for Unique Gifts and Yummy Treats

  • 12) Marvel at the color-changing candles inside Notre Gift before purchasing one to take home with you.

Notre Gift in Riverwalk Village - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions
The hand-made candles inside this shop gradually change colors from red to green to blue once ignited!

Notre Gift of Riverwalk Village
60 Chattahoochee Street, Building 307
Helen, GA 30545

  • 13) Take home some house-made beef jerky from the Jerky Store.

The Jerky Store - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions

Any type of jerky you could imagine, they have it here. In addition to traditional beef jerky, they carry elk, kangaroo, alligator, and various other exotic meats. The Black Label line’s alcohol-infused jerky flavors such as Whiskey Straight, Chipotle Tequila, Draft Ale, and Caribbean Rum are all incredibly popular as well. The Jerky Store also sells its very own line of house-made jerky, and they’re absolutely delicious. If you’re going to purchase jerky, I definitely recommend trying their homemade brand. With flavors like lemon pepper and spicy garlic, they’re sure to impress.

  • 14) Sample and purchase a slab of your favorite fudge from Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen. And then grab a box of Deer Poop or Chattahoochee River Rocks as well.

They make and sell over 20 different flavors of fudge, and you can sample them in-store before buying. I especially love the Amaretto Almond, Chocolate Raspberry, and Peanut Butter Flavors.

  • 15) Purchase beautiful ceramics from Windmill Dutch Imports.

Windmill Dutch Imports - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions

  • 16) Shop for quirky German souvenirs, tee shirts, traditional German hats, and lederhosen at HGA Gifts and Apparel.

HGA Gifts & Apparel - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions

  • 17) Choose a sword to become a warrior at Tim’s Wooden Toys (and then practice beating up your siblings at home).

Tim's Wooden Toys - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions

  • 18) Bring home windchimes from Wildewood.

  • 19) Shop for holiday decorations year-round at the Christmas Shoppe.

The Christmas Shoppe - Things to Do in Helen GA Attractions

Souvenir Photos – Old-Fashioned Style

  • 20) Steve’s Old Time Photo

Located inside the Gesellschaft Haus Building beside the Glassblowing Shop on Main Street, Steve’s Old Time Photo will dress you up in centuries-old fashion and then send you home with a black and white photo to commemorate your visit to Helen.

Steve’s Old Time Photo
8600 N. Main St.
Helen, GA 30545

  • 21) Wild West Old Time Photos / Old Tyme Portraits

A similar souvenir photo shop, you’ll find Wild West just around the corner from Steve’s Old Time Photo. You’ll see this store listed as Old Tyme Portraits on Google maps, so I think they may have had a name change over the years.

Wild West Old Time Photos
19 Chattahoochee Strasse
Helen, GA 30545

 

Where to Eat in Alpine Helen, GA – The 4 Best Restaurants You Must Try

  • 22) The Heidelberg – for Live German Music and Food in a Central Location

The Heidelberg Helen GA Restaurants & Things to Do

One of the most popular and picturesque restaurants in town, the Heidelberg is situated in a prime position in the Main Street Square and is the place to dine to hear live German music and bands. The three-story restaurant serves authentic German dishes and is one of the oldest restaurants in Helen, Georgia.

  • 23) The Troll Tavern – for Riverfront Dining

The Troll Tavern sits directly on the Chattahoochee riverfront. Aside from its specialization in delicious German fare and beer, its spacious outdoor patio makes it a place you won’t want to pass up. The stone deck provides one of the best views in town before disappearing under a rocky bridge that you can’t help but think would make a perfect place for a troll’s favored hiding spot. If you want to dine in a festive atmosphere reminiscent of old fairytale charm, then eat at the Troll’s Tavern on your next stay in Helen.

  • 24) Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese Cafe – for German and Czech Specialty Cuisine

Mullers Famous Fried Cheese Cafe - Things to Do in Helen GA Restaurants

Mullers serves authentic German and Czech cuisine. You must try one of their fried cheese specialties such as the Fried Cheddar Cheese Stuffed with Ham, Fried Cheese Kabab, or Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese Steak, a slab of mozzarella stuffed with ham, then hand-breaded and fried to golden perfection. I also recommend their Original Hungarian Goulash with Czech Bread Dough Dumplings.

  • 25) Hofer’s Bakery and Cafe – for German Breads, Pastries, and Coffees

 

Hofer’s of Helen is an authentic German bakery known as a konditorei. The interior of the cafe is super cute and features furniture imported from Germany. Hofer’s bakes all their own breads in a stone hearth oven, and you can even order online to have them shipped directly to your house.

Outdoor Attractions within the Alpine Village of Helen

You can visit these places without having to get back in your car and drive to another destination after visiting the main shops and attractions within the Alpine Village. Everything here is located within walking distance either within the village or directly adjacent to it.

  • 26) City of Helen Alana Falls Walking Trail & Gazebo of Unicoi Hill Park

Unicoi Hill Park City of Helen Alana Falls GA

This cute spot lies directly next door to the Alpine Helen Village and is a popular spot to park because there’s always spots available. In addition to the little waterfall, there’s also a small park, Unicoi Hill Park, containing a walking trail lined with pretty flowers, a scenic gazebo, and a covered, wooden bridge. This is also the spot where we always park in order to walk to all the cute German shops and restaurants.

  • 27) Cool River Tubing

If you’d like to tube, you’ll find the entrance to Cool River Tubing just across the street from the Helen Welcome Center of the Alpine Village. Sign up there to start your adventure. If you’d prefer to just spectate, you can also watch tubers float down the Chattahoochee from the riverfront patio of the Troll Tavern while you enjoy a nice lunch. Or you can walk along the sidewalk running along the edge of the river for no cost at all. Cool River Tubing offers a one-hour trip or a two-hour trip (the river entry-point determines the length) for $8 per trip (regardless of which length you choose). If you’d like to float for longer, they also have an all-day-pass for $12.00.  (All green tubes you see floating down the Chattahoochee River are from Cool River Tubing.) The company provides free shuttle service from their parking lot to the two entry points on the river (and back again).

Cool River Tubing
590 Edelweiss Strasse
Helen, GA 30545

  • 28) Helen Water Park and Tubing

The Helen Water Park contains 4 water slides over 50 feet tall, a 1,000-foot lazy river, a kiddie play area, and a 25-foot rock wall for climbing. Admission to the water park (currently $20) also includes free unlimited tubing down the Chattahoochee River. (All pink tubes that you see floating down the river are from Helen Tubing). If you’d prefer to just tube and skip the water park, the cost is $5.00 per person for a single ride which lasts around 2.5 hours. The park also provides a free shuttle bus to transport you back and forth between the river and water park.

Helen Water Park and Tubing
222 Edelweiss St.
Helen, GA 30545

  • 29) Pirates Cove Adventure Golf

Putt your way through caves and under waterfalls on this pirate-themed mini-golf adventure.

Pirates Cove Adventure Golf
1081 Edelweiss Strasse
Helen, GA 30545

  • 30) Outpost Gold and Gem Mining Co.

Outpost Gold and Gem Panning lies just around the corner from the Helen Welcome Center of the Alpine Village, so you can easily walk to it. It’s the newer, second location to the popular mining company Dukes Creek Mines. At Outpost, you can pan for gold, screen for gems, mine for fossils, or break apart a geode.

Outpost Gold and Gem
7901 S. Main St.
Helen, GA 30545

Other Outdoor Things to Do in Helen, GA (Outside of the Alpine Village)

The Alpine Village of Helen is just a small section of the town of Helen, and there are many of other great things to do within the local area. The following activities are all located within the city of Helen (or just outside it) but are a little farther away from the Alpine Helen Village, so we’ve included them in their own separate section (since it may require a drive to reach them).

Helen Waterfalls & Mountains

  • 31) Anna Ruby Falls

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 6.5 miles

Difficulty Level: Easy

Trail Length: 0.9 miles round-trip

The paved trail to reach this double waterfall is under a mile round trip. There’s a viewing platform at the halfway point to observe the 150-foot Curtis Creek Waterfall and the 50-foot York Creek Waterfall as they tumble over a cliff before heading on to eventually join the Chattahoochee River.

  • 32) Dukes Creek Falls

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 6.5 miles

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Trail Length: 1.9 miles round-trip

Gold was first discovered on Dukes Creek in 1828, launching America’s Gold Rush. The historic 1.9 mile round-trip trail leads hikers through a series of trails and platforms before reaching the creek and then continuing along to three switchbacks before finally arriving at Dukes Creek Falls.

  • 33) Raven Cliff Falls

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 7 miles

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Trail Length: 5 miles round-trip

This triple-drop-waterfall hike leads you past a 60-foot drop, followed by a 20-foot drop into a deep pool, before finally reaching a 20-foot cascade into Dodd Creek. The best part of this hike is the approach at the trail’s end to a towering, 80-foot-tall cliff where the rocks crack in two, and the Raven Cliff Falls gently flow in between the narrow split in the boulders.

  • 34) Yonah Mountain

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 7.5 miles

Difficulty Level: Difficult

Trail Length: 4.4 miles round-trip

This trail doesn’t contain a waterfall but will lead you to the top of a mountain with breathtaking views of the surrounding forest and valleys. It’s especially pretty during springtime, when the mossy-boulder-filled forest paths come alive with wildflowers. This hike features an endless, uphill climb to the summit and contains many steep, drop-offs, so it’s considered a moderately strenuous task.

  • 35) Blue Hole Falls to High Shoals Falls

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 13 miles

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Trail Length: 2.4 miles round-trip

The 20-foot-tall Blue Falls cascades into a deep, blue-colored pool at the one-mile marker of a trail that continues on to reach the even taller, 50-foot High Shoals Falls. With this hike, you get two gorgeous waterfalls in one one trail in just 2.5 miles round-trip.

  • 36) Helton Creek Falls

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 17.5 miles

Difficulty Level: Easy

Trail Length: 0.6 miles round-trip

In just over a half mile total, you can hike in and out of this forest valley to see both the upper and lower falls of the Helton Creek Falls. It’s a beautiful waterfall and an easy hike, perfect for bringing your pets or kids.

  • 37) DeSoto Falls

DeSoto Falls GA

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 21 miles

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Trail Length: 2.2 miles round-trip

This hike will take you to a lower falls as well as an upper falls, where a nice, wooden platform provides the perfect spot for admiring and photographing the multi-tiered cascades. A piece of armor was found at the DeSoto Falls that, according to legend, is believed to date to the mid-1500s expedition of explorer de Soto.

Helen Gemstone Mining

  • 38) Dukes Creek Mines

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 2 miles

This is the parent company to Outpost Gold and Gem Mining Co. At Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines you can pan for gold, screen for gems, mine for fossils, or break apart a geode. They’re located near the site of the first major discovery of gold in Georgia–Dukes Creek–which played an essential role in launching America’s first Gold Rush. According to George White’s 1849 book Statistics of the State of Georgia, “the first discovery of gold in this state was made at Dukes Creek.” The current shop owners have been in the mining business for over fifty years and are eager to teach you all about the history of mining. Guests who stay at the Heidi Motel and Windmill Suites are invited to mine for free.

Dukes Creek Mines
6145 Georgia Hwy 75
Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571

  • 39) Gold ‘N Gem Grubbin

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 12.5 miles

Pan for gold as well as gemstones at this authentic, historic gold mine from the mid 1800s gold rush. They’re North Georgia’s only commercially operating gold mine and have been featured on The Travel Channel. Before you leave, you can even have your finds cut and set in custom gold & Sterling silver jewelry or camp out on their 7 acre lake.

Gold ‘N Gem Grubbin
75 Gold Nugget Lane
Cleveland, GA 30528

Ziplining

  • 40) Cool River Adventures

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 1.5 miles

This is a sister company to Cool River Tubing but is located a little further away from the German village, so you’ll definitely want to drive and park there. They offer a zip line, two aerial adventure courses, and a 24-foot climbing wall.

Cool River Adventures
112 Poplar Stump Rd.
Helen, GA 30545

  • 41) Nacoochee Adventures

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 1.5 miles

This outdoor adventure company specializes in ziplines, aerial adventure parks, ATVs, and overnight tree house camping.

Nacoochee Adventures
7019 S Main St
Helen, GA 30545

  • 42) Unicoi Zipline and Aerial Adventure Park

Distance from Alpine Helen Village – Approximately 3.5 miles

Zipline through the North Georgia Mountains on the largest zipline canopy tour in North Georgia. They have ziplines designed for beginners and smaller children as well as ones designed for more advanced adventurers. Their longest zipline spans 2,000 feet, and their tallest lets you soar through the air at 100 feet from the ground. They also feature multiple skywalk bridges and aerial towers. The best part–their guides take photos of your adventures, and you get to take them home with you for free.

Unicoi Zipline & Aerial Adventure Park
1788 Hwy 356
Helen, GA 30545

 

Special Events in Helen, Georgia

  • 43) Helen to the Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race and Festival

This annual springtime race begins in the Alpine Village of Helen and is the United States’ only long distance hot air balloon race as well as the oldest balloon event in the South. The festival in Helen lasts three days.

Helendorf River Inn
33 Munich Strasse
Helen, GA 30545

  • 44) Annual Lavender Fest

The lavender festival takes place in June each year. It’s located in Sautee Nacoochee–just 4 miles away from the Alpine Helen Village–at the Lavender Cottage and Garden. Guests can cut their own fresh lavender bouquets directly from the garden. The event features culinary lavender tastings and lavender wand making. There will also be face-painting, storytelling, and vendors selling arts and crafts.

The Lavender Cottage and Garden
53 Highway 255 N.
Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571

  • 45) Oktoberfest in Helen

Oktoberfest in Helen GA
Photo Used with Permission by Alpine Helen White County Convention and Visitors Bureau

The longest running Oktoberfest in the United States takes place from September 6th to October 28th. It features live German music from bands around the country, a parade, German beer, and German food.

Helen Festhalle
1074 Edelweiss St.
Helen, GA 30545

  • 46) The Lighting of the Village

Christmas in Helen GA
Photo Used with Permission by Alpine Helen White County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in Helen to light the village and kick off the holiday season. Live bands perform, and kids can meet Santa from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. This is a free event.

Downtown Helen at the Bandshell
8600 N. Main St.
Helen, GA 30545

  • 47) Festival of Trees

Things to Do in Helen GA Christmas
Photo Used with Permission by Alpine Helen White County Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Festival of Trees is held every year in order to raise money for charity. Beautifully decorated trees and wreaths are on display for weeks before finally going home with the highest bidders on the last day of the event.

Unicoi State Park
1788 Highway 356
Helen, GA 30545

  • 48) Helen Christmas Parade

Helen’s Annual Christmas Parade is held on a Saturday at the beginning of December. Santa and floats full of costumed characters make their way from downtown Helen to the Festhalle on Edelweiss Street. A bonfire with s’mores follows the parade.

  • 49) Christkindlmarkt – Christmas Market in Helen

Helen’s Christmas Market offers unique Christmas gifts, decorations, and candies in the Downtown Marketplatz during the first two weekends in December.

  • 50) Dropping of the Edelweiss

Helen celebrates the New Year every year with music, hors d’oeuvres, party hats, dancing, and a midnight champagne toast. This is not a free event.

Helen Festhalle
1074 Edelweiss St.
Helen, GA 30545

 

 


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Jillian Michelle
FAIRY DRAGON MOTHER at Adventure Dragon. Artist. Writer. Dreamer. Adventurer. I still believe kindness can change the world. I just want to inspire.

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