Nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains alongside the Chattahoochee River is Helen, Georgia, a town brimming with distinctive attractions deeply entrenched in tradition.
By Elizabeth Bonner
Helen holds a rich heritage rooted in history and culture—including a Cherokee Indian village, a Gold Rush hot spot, and a lumber mill mecca—a distinction that put the town on the map in 1913. Helen is characterized by Germanic inspiration, offering a passport-free Bavarian experience blended with a welcoming Southern culture.
In the late 1960s, Helen’s identity hit a bit of a lull, and local artist John Kollock was commissioned to reimagine the town with some sketches. John’s creative inspiration came from time spent in the military in Germany. His artwork served as the basis for the town’s remodel into a replica of an alpine village complete with red-roofed-and-turret-topped structures seated upon cobblestone streets—all of which remain today. Taking a trip to Helen is like stepping back into a quaint Bavarian village in Old-World Germany.
Helen is an authentic small town—named for the daughter of a railroad executive who brought the area its first line. The residential population of little more than 500 swells to accommodate the visitors that fill its 2.1 square miles every year to make it the third-most-visited city in Georgia. Keep reading to find out why people are flocking to Helen for its shopping, culinary scene, and breathtaking sights.