Summer Weekend Getaway… a taste of Bavaria in the South!
Written by on Friday, August 28th, 2015
My view, driving into town

My view, driving into town

website 2

This Summer, I visited a little town in the northern part of Georgia and found it to be

a charming & relaxing place for a weekend getaway, so I’m sharing!

The town’s actual name is “Helen, Georgia”, but it has the nickname of “Alpine Helen” because of

the Bavarian-themed design of the buildings…

s_town square

and

their reputation (in the Fall) for a festive Oktoberfest celebration.

s_oktoberfest info

Here’s a video (I found on YouTube) spotlighting their Oktoberfest…

We were a little early for Oktoberfest, so our trip was a mixture of exploring nature, “Mom & Pop” shops,

and a few outstanding restaurants punctuated by a hilarious & fun water experience.

To give you a little taste of this Southern Bavarian town,

below are some photos of our favorite experiences,

all of which were family friendly and suitable for almost any age.

First up… FOOD!

BettysCountryStore_full

Stocking up on breakfast goodies at Betty’s Country Store helped us begin the day on budget.

And we enjoyed them on our hotel balcony, while watching tubers float down the Chattahoochee River… so relaxing!

room balcony    s_backyard 2

Based on the town’s theme, we were pretty sure they would have fabulous German food

and this popular, little restaurant (Hofer’s Bakery & Cafe) did not disappoint… just be ready for a wait.

s_hofers

For dinner, we found what turned out to be our favorite restaurant (we ate there twice!)

The Nacoochee Village Tavern & Pizzeria

s_restaurant patio

s_restaurant

As soon as you sit down, you’re served a generous bowl of warm popcorn and during our visit,

one of the owners (Rachel) also took the time to sit with us and share her family’s restaurant start-up story.

And I thought it was so sweet how the staff didn’t even hesitate to gather together so I could take this photo of them…

s__restaurant staff

That says a lot about their camaraderie, which (in my opinion) is always reflected in the quality of the food.

And considering the fact that we found the food to be deliciously unique and realized that they use as many locally produced food staples as possible, that theory held true!

They also have incredibly budget-friendly daily specials…

s_specials 1     s_specials 2_pizza

and another

Budget Hint:  pick up their restaurant “to go menu” brochure around town because inside,

you’ll find a coupon for a generous & free cheesy bread

s_cheesy bread

On our first visit, we ordered from the Appetizer Menu and took advantage of their 1/2 price wine & beer.

I had a glass of wine & super tasty spinach salad with tangy pickled eggs… it was YUM-O!

s_spinach salad

 My hubby is a HUGE meatball fan so he ordered “THE MESS”,

which features their handmade meatballs baked in a crock with ricotta & buffalo mozzarella cheeses,

charred Roma tomato sauce, fresh basil and a side of homemade toasted house bread…

s_the mess

{oh yea!  You know I had to create a play-by-play photo shoot of that yummi-ness!}

And because we showed up on a day with drink specials,

check out the total of our dinner check, and trust me, we were stuffed!

s_receipt 2

Our favorite snack place was the Hot & Sweet Coffee Shop, located on Main Street in downtown Helen,

for a cup ‘o joe and some Moose Tracks ice cream…

s_coffee ice cream shop     s_ice cream

As you can tell, my normally healthy diet took a back seat this weekend, for the most part (woo hoo),

but we did a ton of walking around this small town so at least that helped counter-act it a little. Maybe?  LOL

As a matter of fact, the only negative about this town is the lack of free parking.

But (FYI), we found some free parking on the back streets, behind Main Street,

which leads me to the…

SHOPPING!

During Oktoberfest, these Mom & Pop shops are open continuously,

however, some of the smaller shop hours are more sporadic the rest of the year.

I was told it’s because many of the small shop owners have regular jobs,

which makes it hard for them to keep regular store hours, so I made sure I supported them with my patronage, while there,

and I hope you will too. 🙂

s_main st 2    s_town square_dusk 2

s_merchant

s_xmas store_closer

And yes, that’s a Christmas store!  The owners are teachers so it was closed during my visit… guess I’ll just have to go back! 😉

One shop I did get to explore that really impressed me was the Nora Mill General Store,

located in the next door village of  Nacoochee~

s_gen store

It’s managed by a wonderfully helpful young woman (Addi) and the shop is a very modern take on the old general store style,

featuring lots of eco-friendly products, many made by local artisans.

s_gen store_insides_gen store_jewelry

s_gen store_wool balls

s_gen store_shower bombs    s_gen store_bath bombs

I definitely got some early Christmas shopping done that day!

Across the street is the Nora Mills Granary Grist Mill.

Established in 1876, ​this vintage Granary is an operational gristmill

orig granary

sitting alongside the Chattahoochee River, in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.

They even have a back porch where you can feed the dozens of ducks that hang out there.

And I’m sorry, but I simply could not resist adding a caption to this photo I took of them (ha ha)…

s_ducks

At the Mill, they still utilize the original 1,500 pound French Burr Stones to grind and produce all kinds of corn and wheat based products such as grits, cornmeal, pancake & waffle mixes, flours, biscuit & bread mixes, pioneer’s porridge, etc.

stone

I chose a 1 lb. bag of Flax seeds that also came with several recipes.

So far, I’ve tried the vegan Banana Bread recipe and it was A-mazing!

banana bread recipe

I made this one for my family…

banana bread

and because it tasted so wonderful, I stepped it up even more by drizzling some dark chocolate over a 2nd one,

to use as a gift for my chocolate loving, vegan neighbor, who also LOVED it!

HINT:  If you give a baked good as a gift, try to deliver it as “hot out of the oven” as possible

along with their favorite beverage, for maximum impact

s_banana bread choc drizzle

We saved one of our favorite things for the last day…

NATURE

 In the morning, we drove a short distance to take in the beautiful Anna Ruby Falls.

s_flowers 1

s_yellow flowers

Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, you can enjoy this nature gem for the price a few dollars and

a little bit of uphill hiking along well-defined paths.

s_falls_path 2

The water cascading over the drop offs is created by two creeks. The Curtis Creek falls drop 153 feet and the York Creek falls are a much shorter but still spectacular 50 feet.

s_falls

🙂 Here’s a brief video I took of the falls….

s_falls_sign

    s_falls_run

The water at the bottom of the falls is then considered to be part of Smith Creek which flows into and forms Smith Lake –

the centerpiece of Unicoi State Park… so pretty & peaceful!

s_falls_lake

After this (kind of) steep 1 mile hike,

we relaxed by enjoying a leisurely & inexpensive ($5) tube ride down the Chattahoochee River,

known as “Tubing the Hootch”.

s_bridge view

I never laughed so much because every now & then,

you’re likely to become briefly marooned on a rock.

No worries though because someone else usually comes along and bumps you back into the river stream

(and then, they’re marooned)

or because it’s shallow, you can simply hop out of your tube and pull yourself off.

Either way, it was hilarious every time it happened

and a unique way to share funny, mutual circumstances with complete strangers. LOL

s_tubers 3

Of course, there’s more to see & do in Alpine Helen,

but I hope the details of my trip helps you decide if this getaway is for you.

Enjoy!

eileen_red



3 Comments

  1. cookie17 says:

    These were so pretty being’ we don’t travel a lot why like see pictures of different places ,Thanks’ for showing to us…

  2. Evelyn says:

    This place is so charming. I live in a big city and so I can appreciate such a charming place like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. michelle knight says:

    Beautiful pics and great comments…felt like I was waking right thru the town with you! Definately interested in visiting this town now! Thanks so the great info! 🙂

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