I was seriously disappointed with my recent visit to Helen, Georgia. The Georgia town, nestled in the southern Appalachian Mountains, felt more like a cheap carnival than a village in the Bavarian Alps. Helen is known for its German-style architecture, shopping and family friendly outdoor activities. However, these days Helen is more like the Myrtle Beach of the mountains than a unique mountain getaway.
1. Cheesy Has Replaced ‘Bavarian’ as the Theme
The shops in Helen, Georgia have turned from selling high-end, artisanal products to cheap trinkets and souvenirs, with a few exceptions. We saw tacky t-shirt shops, jerky stores and too many tattoo and piercing establishments. The same can be said for many of the restaurants like the cheesy margarita deck and chain restaurants located on main street. I just don’t understand why these would be found on the main street of a Bavarian themed town.
“These days Helen is more like the Myrtle Beach of the mountains than a unique mountain getaway.”
2. Crowds Everywhere
The ‘tacky’ town of Helen was still brimming with tourists. Everywhere! It was extremely difficult to get a nice photograph of the town because there was traffic all along the main street and tourists everywhere. I’m a tourist too, so I can’t hate tourists, but I can prefer that there be less of them. We decided to drive a few miles out of town to visit Ana Ruby Falls (which was beautiful) and the trail was also full of people. I can only imagine what it is like trying to tube down the Chattahoochee River in the summer months. [Go google tubing in Helen, Georgia and you will see.]
“I’m a tourist too, so I can’t hate tourists, but I can prefer that there be less of them.”
3. Too Kid Friendly
Helen was once the ideal place for couples to spend a romantic getaway. Can you imagine a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains that looked like it came straight from the Alps of Germany? Well now that town is full of go kart racing, water parks, gem mining and mini golf. When these businesses moved in, some of the magic and mystery was lost. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about family friendly activities. However there were already so many natural kid-friendly activities that it seems like a shame to add in all of these distractions.
Here are a few of the natural kid friendly activities that Helen has to offer: hiking to Anna Ruby Falls, swimming or Fishing at Smith Lake, tubing/rafting down the Chattahoochee River, zip lining in Unicoi State Park or horseback riding.
My family camped in Helen, Georgia about 20 years ago and my parents both expressed how quaint the town was. My mom came with me on this trip and she agreed that it has changed for the worse. We walked through the town in about 30 minutes and then we were ready to leave. The whole trip was pretty comical because it was not what we were expecting. We ended up heading out and eating lunch in a different Georgia town. The one saving grace to our trip was Anna Ruby Falls. It really is spectacular.
If you are thinking of vacationing in Helen, Georgia, all I can say is good luck. Has anyone else had a different experience in Helen, Georgia?