For the past two years a group of our friends and us rent a cabin somewhere in the mountains and ring in the New Year together. And the cabin part of it has always been a lot of fun. Recently (well, I guess not recently, considering it’s half way through November), we chose a cabin in Helen, Georgia. I had heard great things about the little town from a number of people and a couple of our friends wanted to visit as well. We found this cute cabin at a really decent price, considering the time of year, and drove our butts 6 and a half hours up to it from Florida. While I wasn’t super impressed, our group of friends is able to able fun at a funeral, so here are a few of my seeminly less touristy (if it’s even possible) suggestions of things to do.
3 things to do, should you find yourself in Helen, GA
When I first heard about Helen, it was glorified as this adorable German mountain town. Honestly, it’s a tourist town. Have you been to Saint Augustine, Florida? If you haven’t, you should go. That’s not the first time I’ve said this…. the history there is wonderful…. alas, I digress. Well, there is the main town square there filled with beautiful streets… and a bunch of shops (and some great bars). Helen reminded me of a mediocre version of the St. Augustine square. Instead of the old style buildings, they were German style buildings. Which was cute, and of course, pretty when lit up for the holidays, but far to over crowded to really enjoy much. With that being said, I do try to find the good everywhere we go, since some people aren’t even lucky enough to go to the tourist traps.
1. Eat at Bodensee
While most of the places in Helen to eat that we came across had poor service and sub par food, Bodensee was the rare exception. It’s a German restaurant serving traditional dishes. Everyone was happy with their food, the guys most of all, as they came back a second time. The portions are huge and the food delicious. The service was good too, which was a nice change of pace. This place does get packed though. We went for lunch and were able to get seated, but you might want to call ahead if you’re planning on going for dinner. Don’t miss it though, it’s probably the least touristy restaurant in the area.
2. Do a wine tasting at Habersham Winery
Depending on where you are staying, you should probably to Uber over to the winery. But it is worth it as it is located in a gorgeous white building reminicent of a farmhouse. And the wine tasting is a lot of fun, especially if you get a cool bar tender like we did (we miss you, Cole!). This place does get busy though. We waited about 30 minutes for a place at the bar. But it is also a gift shop and they have seats outside where you can look around and hang out, so the wait doesn’t feel horrible.
It is $7.50 for a tasting of 5 different wines and a souvenir glass, as well as half off of a glass of wine. We thought it was a pretty sweet deal, so we did two tastings. And had two glasses of wine. And were super glad we decided to Uber instead of drive our car there.
3. Race go-karts at Alpine Extreme Speed
We passed this place on a couple of our walks into town from our cabin. It never seemed open since there weren’t any cars in the parking lot. But one night, on a whim, us girls were walking back from the store and decided to check it out. It’s a huge (and freezing) indoor go-kart track. So naturally, we had to go for a ride. We paired up and split the costs. It was a lot of fun, and also the longest race in history. I think it was like 20 minutes (probably 10, but the wind while you’re driving is so cold that it felt like forever). If you want a little childhood fun, stop in here. They apparently have laser tag, a bounce zone, and a haunted house, so it’s great for the family too. And it definitely beat walking around souvenir shops.
I’m sure this place has other hidden gems, especially in the spring or summer, considering the Chatahoochee river runs through the town. For example, Anna Ruby Falls was another excursion we took. It’s a gorgeous double water fall that you hike about 10 minutes to get to. I didn’t include it in my list, however, because it’s the first thing that will come up when you search for things to do in Helen. But it deserves at least a mention.
Have you been to Helen? What was your experience like? Tell me in the comments!
Looking for other weekend trips to take in the winter? Check out my guide to Cleveland below.
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