This Underrated Town Just Might Be The Most Beautiful Place In Georgia
To be honest, Georgia has a slew of underrated spots that I wish I could highlight on a continuous loop because they’re just so dang beautiful. But there is one spot, or town, if you will, that I must say sticks out as being extremely underrated. Not only is there a unique history behind the town, but it also is so special in its landscape and community events, we just have to highlight it today.
Of course, I’m talking about Helen, Georgia.
For those of you who don’t know, Helen is a small town smack dab in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When I say small, I mean less than 1,000 residents small. However, being so small, you would think it wouldn’t be much of a town to visit, right? Wrong. Helen, Georgia is actually the third most visited city in the state. There is no other town that can compete to the charm and culture that this town packs in such a small radius.
Helen itself came into being in 1913, named for the daughter of a railroad surveyor looking to bring more rail lines into the state. But the actual history behind this special town is a unique one. It all began in 1828, with the discovery of gold in the Nacoochee Valley. The Georgia Gold Rush brought a big rush of settlers and opportunists, who quickly established towns and settlements across the area. However, the gold boom died off rather quickly, which resulted in Helen, Georgia focusing their export efforts on forestry and logging. However, after many years, the logging town fell into a rapid decline. The city needed to resurrect itself. How did they do it, you ask? By becoming a replica of a Bavarian Apline town in the Appalachians rather than the Alps.
Helen, Georgia has more than 200 specialty and import shops offering handmade gifts, unique Bavarian chocolates, and delicious, authentic German cuisine.
But it isn’t just the quirky lodging and cobblestone walkways that make this town so special. It also has to do with the festivals they throw each and every year. For example, one of the most exciting events in the entire state, perhaps the entire country, is the Annual Helen-Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race. Every year, for the past 42 years to be exact, Helen, Georgia is host to one of the most beautifully enchanting scenes of the sky. Over 30 hot air balloons take flight, showcasing an array of magical colors and designs. The event is the South’s oldest balloon event and the United States’ only long distance hot air balloon race. How about that for impressive?
But, would you believe it if I said that the hot air balloon race wasn’t even Helen’s biggest event of the year? In fact, the annual Oktoberfest that this small town throws is the largest and most popular event this town has to offer. People come from all over to enjoy a little slice of authentic German paradise. The event which takes place every year in October features a ton of German beers, food, and a whole lotta dancing. Here you can learn how to polka or waltz like the best of them! Admission is $18 for Friday and Saturday, with Sunday being free.
I have to say, for all that Helen has going on festival-wise, not to mention all the fun outdoors activities the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer, I do feel it to be one of the most underrated places in the state, and quite possibly one of the most beautiful.
Have you been to Helen, Georgia? Share with us our experience? Or perhaps you’d like to add some more underrated places in our state in the mix! We’d love to hear from you.