|Craving a getaway with the guys, girls, or your special gang? Head to Alpine Helen/White County, Georgia. About an hour and a half north of Atlanta, Appalachia meets Alpine in a lively North Georgia mountain town with fairytale Bavarian charm alongside the Chattahoochee River. Surrounding the entertaining town of Helen are protected forests and wilderness areas, state parks, waterfalls, scenic highways and trails. This destination combines the best of shopping, antiquing, dining and evening entertainment with outdoor adventure.|
Because getaways for guys and gals are smashing the traditional stereotypes, this guide doesn’t divide up interests and activities by gender. Instead, following are ideas to ensure that every member of the group will have their perfect vacation. Included are accommodations suggestions based on interests and itinerary.
1. Dining and evening entertainment
Day and night, downtown Helen’s Bavarian architecture and cobblestone alleys exude a lively, fun vibe. Festive beer halls, sports pubs and dining stay open later in the evening and charming accommodations are just a walk away. More than three dozen casual and fine-casual restaurants, gastro-pubs, bakeries, ice creameries and snack shops serve everything from authentic German cuisine to classic Southern to American steakhouse and barbecue. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on patios and decks all over town, many overlooking the river. HelenGAga.org/dining
For challenging golf with spectacular mountain views, Valhalla Resort and Golf Club is a premier North Georgia course along the Chattahoochee National Forest that’s open to the public. Frequent elevation changes, natural beauty and manicured Bermuda grass make it a challenge and a pleasure. Take a group lesson and check out the pro shop stocked with all the newest equipment and club fitting systems (664 Bahn Innsbruck Road, Helen, Georgia 30545; 800-642-2709). Just for fun, try out the three mini-golf courses in Helen and peruse a typical guys’ getaway on the Helen blog.
Reminiscent of an ancient Scottish castle, Valhalla Resort Hotel offers mountain views, a relaxing pool, a rooftop sky bar and the area’s true fine-dining restaurant, all within the Innsbruck Golf Community. Upscale amenities include concierge, valet and full spa services and three dining options plus packages for hiking, fly fishing and winery tours (688 Bahn Innsbruck, Helen, Georgia 30545; 706-878-2200).
3. History and historic homes
Just seven minutes from Helen, in White County the gazebo-topped Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound is likely the most-photographed landmark in the area. Across the road, tour the Italianate farmhouse and dairy barn and learn how life was lived in the 1870s through the 1920s at Hardman Farm State Historic Site (143 Highway 17, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia 30571;
706-878-1077). A shaded and scenic one-mile ADA-accessible trail follows the Chattahoochee River from Hardman Farm to Helen with interpretive panels along the way.
The scenic community of Sautee-Nacoochee dates back to the 1800s, but its Native American roots go far deeper. Today, historic cabins have been exquisitely restored to house artist and artisan workshops and galleries, antiques, home furnishings and mercantile stores. In the old rural schoolhouse, the Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center hosts juried events for regional artists. On the campus is the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia, a history museum and African American Heritage Site (283 GA-255, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia 30571; 706-878-3300 ext. 307). Established in 1876, the Nora Mill is a historic gristmill alongside the Chattahoochee River that stone-grinds corn and wheat, producing grits, corn meal, pancake and waffle mixes, flours, biscuit and bread mixes along with candy, honey and gifts.
Combine oenophilia or craft beer with a stay in a well-appointed guest room or cabin suites at Sylvan Valley Lodge and Cellars and enjoy the on-site tasting room (747 Duncan Bridge Road, Sautee, Georgia 30571; 706-865-7371). Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn & Spa is a romantic luxury inn and day spa with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Sautee Valley and a menu of revitalizing therapeutic treatments (964 Rabun Road, Sautee, Georgia 30571; 706-878-5055).
4. Wine and beer
In historic Nacoochee Village Habersham Winery is one of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries and its gift shop is an oenophile’s dream (7025 South Main Street, Helen, Georgia 30545; 706-878-9463). Yonah Mountain Vineyards sits at the foothills of Yonah Mountain and offers plenty of outdoor seating, a beautiful hand-crafted wine bar and sweeping views of the mountains (1717 Hwy 255 South, Cleveland, Georgia 30528; 706-878-5522). Also with magnificent views of Yonah Mountain are The Cottage Vineyard & Winery (5050 Highway 129 North, Cleveland, Georgia 30528; 706-865-0053), offering 15 wines, including dry whites and reds as well as multiple sweet wines, and CeNita Vineyards, Winery and Tasting Room, where guests can play a game of corn-hole, recline in hammocks or chat with staff in the tasting room (591 Dock Dorsey Road, Cleveland, Georgia 30528; 706-865-7478). Check the websites for special events and group reservations. To sample even more of Georgia’s wines, visit the in-town tasting room of Sweet Acre Farms Winery, specializing in fruit-based “country wines,” wine slushies and beer on tap (8016 South Main Street, Suite B-1, Helen, Georgia 30545; 706-969-7111). Visit the winery websites for listings and details on making reservations and other key information before you go. Several transportation services offer a fun, safe and informative experience.
Helen is an unrivaled beer-lovers’ destination, with German and international brews featured at many restaurants along with craft selections from the Southeast. Tantrum Brewing Company, the area’s first brewery, was the inspiration of a local who has pushed the envelope to develop new and inspiring brews along with live music and food trucks on weekends. (1939 Helen Highway, Cleveland, Georgia 30528; 706-809-2888)
The twin waterfalls known as Anna Ruby Falls adjacent to Unicoi State Park are the most popular, but there are plenty more to be discovered. Find them all on the Alpine Helen-White County website’s waterfall guide.
6. Outdoor adventure
Serious and amateur outdoor lovers rave about the hiking, mountain biking, rafting, tubing, fly fishing, zip lining and more to be found just minutes away from Helen in “Georgia’s Official Outdoor Adventure Destination.” The Appalachian Trail intersects GA75 and SR348, with parking facilities at both locations. Yonah Mountain is one of the top three rock climbing spots in Georgia.
For on-site access to outdoor adventure, visit or stay at Unicoi State Park and Lodge, situated on 1,063 acres adjacent to the Chattahoochee National Forest. Within Unicoi, Adventure Lodges of Georgia manages the accommodations and offers nearly every outdoor activity possible, from an ADA-accessible interpretive trail and guided nature hikes to heart-pounding ziplining and Olympic-level mountain biking. Try 3D archery or fly fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. With a tavern, on-site dining, hotel-style rooms, fully furnished cabins and campsites it’s a popular retreat any time of the year. Book ahead for a stay in the unique midcentury-retro Barrel Cabins (1788 Highway 356, Helen, Georgia 30545; 706-878-2201).
For more ideas on dining, accommodations and activities and more, visit www.HelenGA.org.
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