The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

There are so many things to do in Helen, Ga, and it ranks among our favorite North Georgia Mountain Towns because of the number of outdoor adventures. It is no surprise that Alpine Helen/White County has been designated by the State House and Senate as Georgia’s Outdoor Adventure Destination.

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

With so much to do, we can’t list everything to do in the Bavarian village of Helen, but we’ve highlighted our very favorites. What about you? What do you love about Helen, Ga?

Insider Tip: Click here for the best food while in town! From German fare to a breakfast worth waking early for!

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

Helen’s Newest Attractions

Georgia Mountain Coaster just opened it’s newest Bavarian Alpine attraction and it is EPIC! It’s fun, fast, and family-friendly.  From downtown, walk to the stairs next to Paul’s on the River (our favorite place to eat.) Kiddos must be 38 inches to ride. Each ride is $15 the first time and half-price the second time around (because you WILL want to go again!)

Valhalla Resort Hotel is the city’s newest hotel. The spa and golf course are big draws for those seeking an upscale stay in the region. Bringing the kids? I’d opt for a cabin instead.

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

Hiking and Waterfalls 

Anna Ruby Falls – Anna Ruby Falls is actually two waterfalls, where two rivers meet and create Smith Creek – the creek that fills the lake at Unicoi.   The falls are majestic, and the walk is short and easy.  You simply cannot visit Helen without taking in this natural beauty. In fact, I think it’s reason enough, alone, to make the journey from Atlanta.

Raven Cliff Falls – Many families avoid this hike because they fear it isn’t family-friendly. Have no fear – most of the hike is very flat, and it follows Dukes Creek, with multiple smaller falls and places to dabble in the water. It is only the very last 1/8-mile that is not safe for kiddos, but the hike is still worthy – awesome, in fact – if you can’t do the whole thing.

Dukes Creek Falls – I love this waterfall in winter, but any time of year will do. From the cabins at Smithgall Woods or from the Dukes Creek parking lot, it is only a 2-mile round trip to the viewing platform. We love the multi-tiered fall dropping 150-feet.

DeSoto Falls – Two falls for the price of one (yes, this is a paid park area.) You’ll hike to the left to see the lower falls, then head back and to the right to see the upper falls. The entire trip is only 2.25 miles, but if you can’t do it all (or you’re not sure the kids will make it the whole way,) I recommend heading to the upper falls first.

Horse Trough Falls – This waterfall is within the Upper Chattahoochee National Forest campsite in the Mark Trail Wilderness area. You must pay to camp here, but not if you just want to see the falls. It’s only a half-mile walk and sees far fewer visitors than other falls in the area.

Yonah Mountain – This one is a 4.4-mile difficult hike primarily because of the pitch. I haven’t done it with my young ones. Go without them and then reward yourself at the nearby vineyard. You’re going to love the views of Helen, Ga from this 3100-ft bald.

Whitley Gap Trail – Take this short trail (named for a nearby AT shelter) to the top of Wildcat Mountain, this trail is filled with fairyland shrubbery that my kids adore. It’s a short trail, but one of my favorite in the area.

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

Other Outdoor Adventures

Tubing the Chattahoochee – This, my friends, is a Georgia must-do! Rent a tube from Helen’s Cool River Tubing and hitch a ride from them to a drop-off location up the river. Whether you take the short ride or the long one, be sure to purchase a push stick!

Helen Waterpark – If the water is too low for tubing (or you just want to have some old-fashioned fun!) then head to the Helen, Ga waterpark where you can tube the 1000-ft lazy river, or take on the four waterslides. Tube rental is also available here.

Camping – There is nothing like camping in fall in Helen, with the changing leaves and the crisp mountain air. Andrews Cove is a small campground just off the road but a world away. The Upper Chattahoochee Campground is a bit more secluded, with toilets and a waterfall. There’s also camping at Yonah Mountain and Unicoi State Park.

Alpine Mini Golf – Alpine Mini Golf is right on main street. The clean course, with German flare and white washed fences was a wonderful way to spend an hour.  I highly recommend it on a trip to Alpine Helen. Be sure to make time for an ice cream next door.

Chattahoochee Stables – One of the few horseback riding places we’ve seen in Georgia with no age limit. Kids under 5yo can ride with an adult! Take an hour guided trail ride, including 1.5 miles along the river (the only “river ride” around!) Trips go out every hour. Contact them for details.

Woody’s Mountain Bikes – Woody’s offers the complete mountain bike experience Tuesday – Saturday for kids 12 up to adults. The Alpine town trip package includes a bike, a helmet and transport, and prices start at $50.00 per person. The most popular ride is the Gap Ride- 14-miles, mostly downhill, at your own pace, with 5-miles along the Chattahoochee. Reservations are recommended.

Wildwood Outfitters – Select from 4 different 5-10 mile kayaking trips down Georgia’s Chattahoochee – either a leisurely trip or an exciting whitewater experience. Trips are 2-5 hours, depending on where and how long a trip you take. Rentals include kayaks, canoes or tandems, life jacket, paddles, helmet and shuttle. Kiddos must be at least 5 yo. If you have your own canoe or kayak then use their shuttle service for a nominal fee.

Alpine Carriage Company – Whether you are visiting with your family, as a couple, or on your own, you can’t skip the carriage ride with Alpine Carriage Company. Kids will especially get a kick out of this adventure and feeding the horse! Reminder – don’t forget to tip your driver…these guys and gals are in the hot sun all day.

Hardman to Helen Trail – We love this trail! It’s a 1-mile paved walkway along the river, running from Hardman Farm to Downtown Helen. There are beautiful stops along the way (like a terrific view of Nora Mill!) Bring the stroller, the kid’s scooters, or just your feet!

Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen

State Park Adventures

Smithgall Woods State Park – There are two Georgia State Parks in the small town of Helen. The first one want to introduce you to is Smithgall Woods State Park.  We’ve visited about half of the state’s lovely parks, but this is my favorite one by far.

I love the creek running through, the towering trees that change the temperature by a good 10 degrees with their full canopies, and the unique cottages from which you can explore.

The cottages allow easy access to Dukes Creek Falls (or you can drive only a few miles to the trailhead.) Hiking, trout fishing, geo-caching, ranger programs…there is so much to do!

Unicoi State Park – There is a second Georgia State Park in Helen with outdoor activities galore: Unicoi State Park. Enjoy hiking, biking, walking, fishing, boating, canoeing, swimming, and more! In fact, they have an all new Adventure Lodge Program that is The Bomb.

You can adventure all weekend and still not get in everything there is to do. Don’t forget there is lodging here, too…Barrel Cabins dotting Unicoi Lake, cottages (3 are pet friendly,) camp grounds and a Lodge.

Hardman Farm – This is the newest Georgia State Park Historic Site, sitting on 173-acres in Helen. You can take tours of the Italianate architected house and dairy barn built in 1870, home of the family of Anna Ruby, for whom the fall are named.. The Nacoochee Mound is a burial site and was probably used long before the Cherokee inhabited the area.

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine FunThis logging town – turned – adorable German style alpine village set among the Blue Ridge Mountains is not just for outdoor lovers, though! There are amazing shops, museums, restaurants and festivals.

In fact, Helen, Georgia is home to over 200 specialty shops packed full of goodness in only 2.1 square miles. By far the greatest density of these shops (and restaurants) are along the Chattahoochee River along Main Street in Downtown Helen.

And don’t stop there – the restaurants in the Helen area will knock your socks off!

Shopping and Museums

Nacoochee Village Antiques – There is just something about being in the mountains that makes me love antique shopping. Granted, I’m mostly “window shopping,” but it is still so much fun! This is also a great place to grab a bottle of Habersham Wine or locally roasted JumpinGoat Coffee.

Babyland General – If you are a product of the Cabbage Patch generation, this is a must see.  Even my boys were drawn in and unexpectedly happy and enthused by the visit.  Just about the time we were checking out, we heard the chime of a new baby about to be born.

Charlemagne’s Kingdom – Everyone will love this 50-ft model railroad exhibit set in Germany’s North Sea…spanning 700 miles to the Swiss Alps. Don’t forget to ask about the scavenger hunt – it’s a fantastic way to explore the model with kids.

Habersham Winery – One of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries is right in the downtown area of Helen. When visiting, you can enjoy a wine tasting with five wines that includes a souvenir wine glass.

Old Sautee Store – This is a really fun way to experience history with the kids.  The building is beautiful by itself, but it is fun to see that the shop keeps the spirit of roots in their detailing, candy barrels, and sweet staff.  Whatever you do, don’t leave without asking them to start the music player.

Sautee Nacoochee Center – Did you know Sautee was named one the ‘100 Best Small Art Towns in America?’ (John Villani) The Sautee Nacoochee Center is an arm of the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association (SNCA,) which encourages exploration and education in arts and history.

It includes a theatre, a history museum, dance and art studios, an art gallery, a folk art pottery museum, and an environmental educational resource center. If you have an appreciation for the arts or a desire to learn about the history of the area, I highly recommend a stop.

Nora Mill Granary – Do stop into the granary to see the millstones and the dam.  Take a peak at the 1876 building, with all her character. Pick up a package of freshly milled grits. But don’t under-estimate your kids…talk to them about the process here.  It’s history…in real life.

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun


Oktoberfest – Helen’s Okterberfest is a can’t-miss. It’s the longest running Oktoberfest in the US, starting right after Labor Day through Oct 30. Besides the brats and beer, there are Alphorns, Cowbells and Accordions for your listening pleasure when you head to the Helen Festhalle. Don’t miss the kick-off parade – Sundays are free for Festhalle events. Even if you skip the event hall, just walking the town during this festival is unforgettable. October.

Hot Air Balloon Festival – The South’s oldest balloon event and the United States’ only long distance hot air balloon race will begin (weather permitting) with a mass ascension of 30 bright and colorful hot air balloons. We can never get enough of this festival – love it! June.

Christmas in Helen – There is nothing quite like Helen at Christmas. Tour the Festival of Trees beginning in November, with the culmination being the Helen Christmas Parade with a bonfire, s’mores and paper lanterns. Can’t make it? The weekend prior is the Christmas in the Mountains Lighted Parade, with lighted floats. Eat breakfast with Santa at Babyland. Find the perfect gift at Christkindlmarkt, a German tradition where the center of town is filled with booths offering specialty gift items, decorations, assorted savory food, drinks and candied treats, the first two weekends of December.

Where To Stay in Helen

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

Cozy for Couples

How amazing is this secluded getaway? Private property, full kitchen, screened porch and hot tub!

Details: 2 guests · 1 bedroom · 1 bed · 1 bath · $110/night · Rental Info

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

Family-Sized Cabin

There is plenty of space on the wrap around porch of this cabin for relaxing or enjoying breakfast. Bring s’mores for the fire pit, your swim suit for the hot tub, and bring Fido if you’d like – dogs welcome.

Details: 6 guests · 3 bedrooms · 3 beds · 2 baths · $185/night · Rental Info

The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun

Plenty of Space for Large Groups

Heading to Helen with extended family or a large group? This mountain retreat boasts panoramic mountain views, a hot tub, fire pit area, game room, outdoor fireplace on the deck, and more.

Details: 10 guests · 4 bedrooms · 4 beds · 3.5 baths · $440/night · Rental Info

More on Helen, Georgia

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37 Comments on "The 39+ Best Things to Do in Helen, Ga for Alpine Fun"

  1. Don’t miss Tim’s Wooden Toys in downtown Helen, expanding soon. Great handmade toys. Made on site, come watch us work. Now offering custom signs and you can have any toy personalized. Kids can actually play with the toys and it’s lots of fun.

  2. Jennifer Harrelson | 09/21/2015 at 8:39 am |

    Please update your webpage about Charlemagnes Kingdom. On your recommendation, we walked all the way over to this attraction after lunch mid afternoon on a busy Friday and it was closed, and up for sale! We were pretty disappointed. My 19 year old son always loved trains as a young boy and I brought him to Helen to see this attraction. The pictures looked so cool, if we could have only be allowed in.

    • Oh No!! I am so sorry to hear that!! We were there not too long ago, so this is disappointing to hear. I apologize!! I will update now. TY!

      • Tony Craig | 07/21/2018 at 2:02 pm |

        It looks like this has been reopened if you want to add it back in.

  3. Such a great post, thanks for sharing. I am planning to visiting in columbus with my friends in the next month. I have now decided that what Things to do in Georgia, with my friends. Your idea was great, it’s helpful to me.

  4. Jennifer | 07/27/2016 at 2:21 am |

    Great post. Tubing and the Helen Water Park are fun too. Our favorite thing to do before leaving Helen is get chocolate at Hansel and Gretchel too. Helen is wonderful and laid back. Thanks for this wonderful article.

    • Thanks Jennifer! I am ashamed to say that in over 20 years of being in Georgia, I have never tubed at Helen. My son picked Helen tubing and the waterpark for his birthday adventure this year, though, so we are trying it out in August! Can’t wait!

  5. Dennis Doll | 07/28/2016 at 11:11 am |

    Dont forget you can golf with your kids at Innsbruck Golf Resort. Its just a mile from downtown Helen and offers world class course at Georgia prices.

  6. A.M. Blank | 08/27/2016 at 1:17 pm |

    Is the resort open the week after Christmas in 2016?

  7. Are you open the week between Christmas & New Year in 2016

  8. There is another candy store in town. It’s been in the same location for almost 40 years. This place is called Kopper Kettle Fudge and they have the best fudge in town. It is their specialty, not just little treats but homemade fudge from scratch. They make authentic Hershey fudge while you watch the master do her work. This is a stop you must not miss. Or visit them at
    This is where the true taste of Chocolate is.

  9. Don’t forget Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese Cafe, we’re regular customers and don’t go anywhere else!

  10. Barbara Feibish | 10/18/2016 at 12:07 pm |

    Hi, I am planning a trip first week in December. I am looking forward to going after reading your articles! No kids just us adults!

  11. Would never go there again. Went to October Fest. Walk up to a parking lot to purchase our first beer and started to walk around when a police offer stop us and gave us each a $400 citation for having a beer on the sidewalk. Not ONE sign stating this! Ruined our whole trip! $800.00 for 2 beers we did not drink! Guess they make good revenue that way!

    • Lesli Peterson | 10/25/2016 at 7:40 pm |

      Wow! That stinks!! I didn’t know either…surely many of us have been guilty of this. Wish there were warnings!! So glad you shared!

  12. We are staying 12/23-12/26. Any activities going on then?

    • We’re there 15-19th too …..but not much happening looking forward to just getting away from phone .. and business .. hiking is the thing to do in Helen

  13. We were there years ago and I saw some awesome candles that looked like ribbon candy on a pillar candle…. gorgeous! Do you know if they still see those? Would like to buy one…

    • I haven’t been there for about 2 years, but last time I was, I went in a candle shop & got to see one of those pillar candles being made. It was so neat watching that, surely it’s still there! And there’s a little eatery kind of across from the candle shop that has THE best bratwurst ever!!Absolutely love Helen, there’s so much to do! Been there several times & still haven’t seen & done it all. lol I hope when I go back the street artist is there making the spray paint art, that’s cool to watch too.

  14. nicole ellison | 03/06/2017 at 7:34 pm |

    Anything going on the fist week of April?

  15. Ruth Foster | 04/04/2017 at 9:44 am |

    Anything going on around July 4th?

  16. Teresa Monastero | 11/08/2017 at 7:56 pm |

    Heading there this weekend. It will be our second honeymoon on our 1st anniversary. We stopped for lunch at Bodensee last year, on our way back from our honeymoon. It was fantastic. Great food! We hope to hike to the 4 falls in the area, although the weather predicts a cold weekend. I notice that the lights of Christmas were lit on Tuesday. I hope there is a Chriskindlemarkt atmosphere is there. It has been too many years since I visited Nuremburg, Germany. I will see you tomorrow, Helen!

  17. Bernard C Hipchen | 05/10/2018 at 6:04 pm |

    Looking for activities in and around Helen, Ga

  18. Christine Tallman | 08/27/2018 at 5:21 am |

    Trying to find out if the old time photo is open all year round. Someone told me that they had one there. Don’t see it here

  19. Steve’s Old Time Photo 8600 N. Main Street. Walk-ins Welcome 706-878-7048. Best Prices in the Country with 45+ Years Experience. Check Out our Facebook Page. A Souvenir that keeps on giving over the Years!

  20. Is anything pertaining to the holiday extended thru the week after Christmas? We will be there then.

  21. Paul Seay | 09/08/2018 at 10:17 am |

    Thanks for all the things you can do in and around Helen Ga. We will only be there for two days but we could come back sometime later. My late wife and I came on our Honeymoon in 1984, and again in 1991. Really enjoyed our stay. Sorry to see the differance by building the strip malls coming in to town. Seemed to us it messed up the beauty of Helen. Sorry for the statement but it is what it is!! Love Helen. My friend is from Germany she will enjoy!!!

  22. Kathy Lucas Benfield | 04/07/2019 at 3:24 pm |

    My husband and I have been celebrating our Anniversary there since 1980 before he got out of the Army after 16 yrs of service. Helen is our Go-To-Spot for romantic getaways since we spent two tours in Germany.

    We are staying at an adorable B&B from 4/24 – 4/28 to celebrate our 50th (Golden) Anniversary on the 25th.

    We really want to go on a hot air balloon ride while there. We know that isn’t time for the annual balloon fest, but can we go on a ride that week anyway?

  23. Penny Kilgo | 06/29/2019 at 11:20 am |

    Is there a train ride close to Helen that a visitor can get on and ride through the mountains? We are going next week & heard there might be one.

  24. Terri Richardson | 07/06/2019 at 1:51 pm |

    Looking for dog friendly activities in Helen.

  25. You should check our Tantrum Brewing Company! It opened in March on Helen Hwy and looks straight at Mount Yonah! Awesome place to stop after hitting the trails 🙂

  26. You should check our Tantrum Brewing Company! It opened in March on Helen Hwy and looks straight at Mount Yonah! They also grow their own hopsAwesome place to stop after hitting the trails 🙂

  27. Josh Yancey | 07/19/2019 at 3:33 pm |

    Guess us 50-60 year old’s are too old for Helen. Seems like everything there is either for children or younger extreme sports ages.

  28. Seto Hii | 08/12/2019 at 11:08 am |

    Paul’s is trash, got to cowboys & angels or Bigg daddys or mulleys nacoochee grill

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