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A Very Bavarian Christmas | Mini Guide to Helen, Georgia

January 10, 2017 5 min read

Christmas has come and gone just as fast as my money (I always seem to be broke after the holidays). However, this year was a really great Christmas! Not only was it my first Christmas as a married woman, but it was also my first holiday trip with my partner. For our first Christmas trip, we decided to make our way up to Helen, Georgia, only 8 hours away from Orlando, Florida (my current location).

Even though I didn’t drive the whole way there, the trip was exhausting! I can’t imagine doing the trip alone, but if you do decide to go solo or with family and friends, I recommend visiting during the holidays, when the whole city is lit up and fully decorated. 

Helen Georgia

Exploring Helen, Georgia

Helen is a city in White County, Georgia and the population is quite small – about 500-600 in 2020. Helen is a beautiful Alpine village inspired by the villages in Germany, so if it looks familiar, that’s why.

One of the first things we did while my partner and I were there was to explore. We ended up in the historic downtown Helen, which is full of hotels with a cute area full of stores and restaurants. While there is plenty to see, you can see a lot of it in one day, and many of the shops were closed due to it being the day before Christmas. However, if you make the trip to Helen, Georgia a few days earlier, you will see a lot of different events happening in Helen.

Helen Georgia

A few of the events you will find in Helen, Georgia leading up to Christmas are the annual Christmas parade, the annual Christkendlmarkt, the holiday half-marathon, the Nativity experience, and more. If you do end up in the same situation as me – going the 24th-26th, then do expect most of the stores to be closed, but there are plenty of lights and decorations to see.

Accommodations

Helen Georgia

Helen has plenty of hotels, cabins, and bed & breakfasts. No matter where I was in the historic downtown, I could spot a hotel nearby. However. since our trip was last minute, we ended up staying at the only affordable hotel available.

We ended up staying at the Best Western Plus Riverpark Inn, which wasn’t a bad stay but definitely would have wished I had not left the booking for the last minute. As of 2023, the Best Western Plus Riverpark Inn is no longer in operation. However, there are plenty of accommodations to choose from. A few good ones to look into are the Castle Inn, Fairfield Inn and Suites, and Helendorf River Inn and Conference Center.

Restaurants and Cafes

Even though many of the places weren’t open, we were still able to see a lot and did plenty while in Helen. I was surprised to find that there were some cafes and restaurants open, which was great for us because we didn’t like the breakfast at the hotel much.

Helen Georgia

We didn’t make many stops as we walked around the stores and restaurants, but when we did we were very surprised at the friendliness of people and the great customer service. The restaurants, bakeries, and cafes we stopped at were also wonderful and I was impressed with everything I tried. If you’re looking for some good places to eat, I recommend the following spots.

Yonah Coffee Cafe

This was such a cozy coffee shop and the service was great! They have a great selection of coffee and hot chocolate, but my favorite was their Apple Cider, which was so good!

Helen Georgia

This was one of my favorite stops and loved the decor inside. While, yes the place is tiny, there was still room to sit and have a good cup of coffee.

Hofer’s Bakery

While I was blown away by Yonah’s apple cider, Hofer’s blew me away with their baked goods. This bakery reminds me a lot of the bakeries I had seen in Germany. Hofer’s Bakery also makes their own bread and they have so many different German desserts, including one of my favorites – apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel). Okay, so this is more of a Viennese dessert, but this is a dessert you see quite often in Germany.

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Bodensee Restaurant

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We tried at least 3 different restaurants and out of all three, I found Bodensee Restaurant to be more authentic. I had the Sauerbraten (German pot roast) with Spaetzle (egg noodle) and Red Cabbage. It was delicious and if I had any room left for the dessert, I would have gotten one. The price was reasonable, it wasn’t expensive and they also had quite a variety on their menu.

Activities

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Carriage Rides

One of things you’ll see a lot of around Helen are the carriages around the city. There are two companies that I know of that offer carriage rides and both are affordable for the incredible tour you’ll get of the city.

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Mount Yonah

Aside from the restaurants and shops, we went on a 2-3 hour hike on Mount Yonah. This was a bit of a hard hike because of all the steep paths and I wasn’t wearing any hiking shoes…However, I had a good time hiking and though I didn’t make it to the top to see the amazing view, I did get a thrill out of it all.

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Tip: Mount Yonah has steep paths. Make sure to have proper hiking boots and plenty of water! Also go during the day to see the amazing view from the top!

Helen Georgia

Brasstown Bald

Although the trip was amazing, there were a few times I got scared. Helen has steep roads that can cause some nervousness if you do not have good tires for these roads. That’s right folks, I did not have good tires on my car, but somehow we managed to go through the steep roads and made it to one of Helen’s highest peaks – Brasstown Bald.

Helen Georgia

This, however, was a bad idea…not only was it foggy, rainy, and cold, but when I got to the peak it was so foggy, that I could hardly see my surroundings. I do not recommend going up to Brasstown during a rainy, cold day.

Helen Georgia

Nacoochee Indian Mound

At first glance, this mound might not look like much, but after reading up on the history of the mound, I found it fascinating.

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A historical landmark, the Nacoochee Indian Mound is a burial site. Legend has it that Indian lovers from opposing tribes were buried there (sounds a lot like Romeo & Juliet, doesn’t it?). Whatever the story, it’s a nice stop for anyone fascinated with history.

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While we were only in Helen for 2 days, we got to do plenty during our stay. Needless to say, I had an amazing experience in Helen and can’t wait to go back when it’s not too foggy!

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About Me

About Me

Hola!

Hola! I'm Hanny and I have been traveling since the age of three. Although, I grew up traveling, it wasn't until 2013, when I decided to start a blog. Read More

xoxo Hanny

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