Visiting Helen, Georgia

A Dying Town That Saved Itself

On the surface it’s difficult to believe but Helen is the third most-visited town in Georgia, with Atlanta number one and Savannah two. Even more difficult to believe for a population of less than 1,000 people!

A town in Indian country and part of America’s second gold rush, Helen first gained success as a logging town. By the 1930s, the timber company and the sawmill abandoned the town of Helen, and the town began to die. Its first rebirth started when the Federal government created the Chattahoochee National Forest, creating some tourism and new lumber opportunities in the 1950s.

Late in the ’50s and early ’60s, Helen again began to die. With the town again in trouble, local businessmen created a plan to revive the tourist business.

Turning Helen Into A Destination.

Those businessmen and town leaders got together in 1968 and proposed turning their town into a recreation of a Bavarian alpine village complete with chalets with gingerbread trim, cobblestone alleyways, and old-world restaurants and shops. It quickly became a destination city known far beyond Georgia.

The Helen of today celebrates its created Bavarian heritage with a number of German and alpine- Bavarian festivals each year. Since 1972, Oktoberfest has been an annual tradition in Helen, providing one of the best known celebrations of German culture anywhere in America.

Stop By For Lunch Or Stay A couple Of Days

Today the town offers up a number of good restaurants like the Haufbrauhaus that serves authentic German cooking. Helen boasts a couple of wineries of note along with great hiking trails and tubing on the stream that flows through the town. And don’t leave town without picking up some Bavarian souvenirs.

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