Helen GA: Oktoberfest, Tubing, Hiking, German Beer, and Biking in Georgia...

Helen GA and Oktoberfest...

One of the best seasons of the year is autumn, partly because of the incredible change of weather and associated holidays and festivals. After the long, hot summer weather it’s nice to start enjoying cool breezes and a lower temperature to get the blood flowing… The Germans have celebrated a great festival at this time of year for well over 150 years called Oktoberfest, and one small town in Georgia features this event for about six weeks during the fall. Helen GA actually is promoted as the longest Oktoberfest in the U.S.!

Helen GA is a very unique town and it’s small enough that you can actually walk around the whole thing and see everything… There are many awesome attractions here, including tubing down a river that flows through the center of town. Helen is located in northeastern Georgia, about 1 ½ hours from the city of Atlanta. It’s relatively easy to get to, but it’s not right off the highway so there are plenty of rural roads that you will need to travel along the way. Once there, you’ll notice several small mountains or hills surrounding the town, which provide a great setting to make visitors feel like they are in the Bavarian Alps of Germany.

Bavarian Atmosphere in Helen GA...

Years ago, Helen GA started running into some financial problems, and was pretty much in a slump. To try and revive the town, they basically created a tourist setting with downtown buildings designed to look old German in a Bavarian atmosphere to promote a year round Oktoberfest feeling. The ploy worked, and gradually over the years they have been bringing in lots of visitors from the surrounding areas to escape the cities for awhile… It’s a great place to de-stress from the rigors of everyday life, and do some nice shopping and eat at quaint little restaurants and drink German beer. You can get old fashioned fudge here that is made fresh every day. Or try an outdoor sidewalk café while drinking Kulmbacher Eisbock beer (my all time favorite!) and eating a plate full of pickled herring (or another favorite of yours!)… It’s nice to be able to try some non-typical food that you can get anywhere. I mean, you can have a steak at home, try something a little different during your stay here!

Lodging is pretty good here, and there are several nice small hotels or bed and breakfasts on the river that runs through town, plus there are many cabin rentals located just up some of the many hills in the area. The rates are pretty reasonable also, and most likely you can find one within a short walk from the downtown tourist area in Helen GA.

Tubing in Helen GA...

Summertime brings a horde of tourists from the Atlanta area to cool off during the hot months, and Helen GA offers tubing down the river as a nice respite. You can rent tubes and sticks to propel you down the river, and they will bus you to the starting place. Be warned however, that the river is not always full of water and can be relatively shallow in some places. When the conditions are like this, it can be much harder to keep yourself moving and you stand a greater chance of getting stuck on the rocks. In that case, you will just have to get up and move down the river to a deeper spot; not quite the relaxing river ride you might have been expecting…

Helen GA also has a bear exhibit in the downtown area, and has several different species including a Grizzly enclosed in a pit area for viewing and feeding. They are nice to see and experience, but it’s a shame that they have to keep them in so small an area. This is still a nice exhibit to see, if you’ve never seen bears up close and personal.

Oktoberfest in Helen GA...

Starting in September of each year, the Oktoberfest season starts up and runs for six weeks… There is a “beer hall” located just a block or two from downtown (by the river), and this is the official spot for the German and Austrian festivities, which include very authentic German food, beer, and wine, and German bands playing the traditional oom-pa and polka music that you would expect at any Oktoberfest around the world. There is a fee for admission, but it is well worth it to be able to experience all the fun! It’s one of my favorite places for Oktoberfest, and I try to go every year to Helen GA!

There are also many great state and local parks just outside of town, which include some fantastic waterfalls! Anna Ruby Falls is one, and there is a short hike in order to get there. In fact, there are many awesome bike and hike trails in the area if you feel the need for some physical activity! I hope this gets you excited about the town of Helen GA, and maybe you will pay it a visit in the near future… Have fun!

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