Editor Kristen here. If you’re like me and fall and winter are your favorite seasons, then I have the perfect getaway for you. Check out Helen, GA, an alpine village that’s known for its nature scenes, having one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the country, and transforming into a winter wonderland.
My family would take trips to Helen during the fall and winter months for a quick getaway that felt like we had left the country for Europe, but we had only traveled to a different state. From polka dancing, eating Bavarian cuisine + spending time in the mountain scenery — I have made some cherished memories in Helen and hope you get the chance to do so, too.
- Despite only having a population of ~545 people, this alpine village is one of Georgia’s most visited cities (with plenty of reason) with fun for the whole family.
- Take a trip to Germany without leaving the country. The town is known for its Bavarian architecture, German cuisine + drinks, and for throwing one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the country from September 7-October 29.
- The Christkindlemarkt celebration is from November 25-26 + December 2-3. The event offers everything from unique gifts, food, treats, and the entire town gets decorated into a winter wonderland (the decorations stay up past the celebration dates for you to check out). Bonus: The annual Lighting of the Village takes place on November 24.
- Spend a day touring a vineyard + tasting Georgia wines at the Yonah Mountain Vineyards. Pro tip: spend $35 for a wine flight and receive a commemorative wine glass to take home with you.
Act like a local
- Food: Hofer’s of Helen Bakery & Café is a must-try. This café’s menu + ambiance makes you feel like you’re in Germany. The Schwarzwälder Kirsch (Black Forest Torte) is to die for.
- Drink: Start the morning off with a coffee from Yonah Coffee & Café. They have a great cappuccino + the signature Yonah Latte with white chocolate and raspberry is delicious. In the evening, The Alpine Brew Deck is one of my favorite spots to grab a beer in Helen. Grab a brew and sit along the deck that overlooks the Chattahoochee River.
- Outdoors: Take a ride on the wild side, or the Georgia Mountain Coaster, no matter your age this activity is a blast. There are also plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, ziplining, tubing + kayaking (if it’s warm enough), and other outdoor activities to try out.
- Learn: Stop by the Helen Arts and Heritage Center to learn more about Helen’s history, check out art exhibits from local artists, and even take classes like pottery + painting.
- Listen: If you visit Helen during Oktoberfest, there’s a massive lineup of live music to check out. Grab your brews, listen, and polka dance the night away.
Where to stay
- VRBO: Spectacular mountain chalet, short walk to downtown + activities ($270/night)
- Airbnb: Moonlight Kiss romantic cabin, tucked away from the city ($147/night)
Helen is absolutely worth the planned trip. Trust me, you’ll make fall and winter memories that will last a lifetime.