Formerly a logging town that was in decline, the city resurrected itself by becoming a replica of a Bavarian alpine town, in the Appalachians instead of the Alps. This design is mandated through zoning first adopted in 1969, so that the classic south-German style is present on every building, even on the small number of national franchisees present (such as Huddle House and Wendy’s).
Because of this, tourism is the main industry in Helen, catering mostly to weekend visitors from the Atlanta area and also motorcyclists who enjoy riding the beautiful roads of Helen and its surrounding areas during all seasons. Helen is extremely crowded in late October, when autumn leaves typically peak. It also hosts its own Oktoberfest during September, October and November. There are many events and festivals throughout the year. One of the most well-known is Southern Worthersee, which is a stateside Volkswagen and Audi event that pays tribute to the Worthersee Tour in Austria with attendance of approximately 20,000 people. Also the annual hot-air balloon race held the first weekend in June.
The main road through town is north/south Georgia 75. The Helen stream gauge (HDCG1) is located on its bridge over the Chattahoochee in the middle of downtown. A parallel route to the west is labeled Georgia 75 Alt to identify it as a bypass routearound the town and its massive traffic jams in the autumn and on some weekends.
Unicoi State Park and Lodge, spanning 1,050 acres, is located immediately northeast of Helen on Georgia 356. The park encompasses Unicoi Lake, a 53-acre freshwater lake, offering outdoor activities for all seasons. Among them are a swimming beach, trout streams, wheelchair-accessible fishing docks, seasonal canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals, seven picnic shelters with charcoal grills, three playgrounds for children, many spots for birding, 7.5 miles of hiking within the park (with adjacent trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest), 8 miles of mountain biking trails within the park, and plenty of places to enjoy the natural beauty of the lake and park. Unicoi State Park also offers lodging in several forms. Access to Anna Ruby Falls, part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, is located through the park.
In 1975, DOCUMERICA photographer Al Stephenson documented the life, recreation, and economy of the Helen area before and during the construction of Alpine Helen.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977) filmed a scene on Chimney Mountain Rd. just outside of Helen.
Things To Do In Helen: http://www.helenga.org/attractions
Weather In Helen: https://weather.com/weather/today/l/USGA0267:1:US