Get Away To North Georgia’s Mountain Beauty With A Touch Of Bavaria – No Passport Required

Monday, January 16, 2017 - by Alpine Helen/White County Convention and Visitors Bureau
- photo by Hansel and Gretel Candy Company in Alpine Helen

Prior to 1800, Alpine Helen was the center of Cherokee Indian culture. Once pillaged for natural resources, first gold and then timber, by the 1960s there was nothing left except a dreary row of concrete block structures. So, in 1968, a group of entrepreneurs worked with a local artist who had been stationed in Germany. The artist determined a new look for the North Georgia town, adding gingerbread trim, Bavarian-inspired details and colors to the buildings. In January 1969, business owners and local carpenters began turning ideas into reality and all downtown stores were renovated. In 2002, $1.2 million was spent on improvements in the downtown area. Since then, Helen has accomplished much, creating a new town and industry, providing jobs for more people and boosting the economy of the entire area–supporting over 1,200 hotel rooms, more than 150 shops, including those of Old World artisans, 40-plus restaurants and a number of wineries.

And while you can still see the beloved old gal of yesteryear in her bustling main shopping thoroughfare, traditional German restaurants and bakeries and tourist mainstays like gold panning and mini golf, you’ll meet a more urbane Helen today. Create a piece of art at The Willows, a working potter’s studio with Paint Your Own Pottery studio. Take in a gallery show or live theatre performance at The Sautee Nacoochee Center. Find a new artist to collect at InsideOut Sautee with its local artists’ gallery and home furnishings, pottery, jewelry and more. Take time to tour the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia; housed in a post and beam building, this is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to folk pottery and showcasing a 200-year tradition of men and women who shaped the earth and water of the Georgia Mountains into once essential household items now valued and collected as distinctive folk art.

While in Helen, feast at dozens of restaurants, including the authentic German bakery of Hofer’s and at the Old Bavaria Inn where German food, stein sales, lederhosen sales and much more contribute to the experience. German food, beer and wine reign at the Old Heidelberg restaurant while at Higher Ground Coffee & More a warmly brewed cuppa is the perfect pairing for the homemade fudge and other sweet confections at the Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen. And, at Muller’s Famous Café, savor delicious European specialties in a cozy and intimate atmosphere.

At the end of your adventure, you’re sure to sleep like a baby in Helen’s in-town hotels, motels and B&Bs, many of which overlook the Chattahoochee River and decorate the landscape with their mural-enrobed facades, and the mountainside and mountaintop accommodations, including B&Bs, cabins and condos, scenically situated throughout White County.

Plan your mountain vacation during one of Helen’s popular annual events, such as Wine Highway Weekend (March), the Northeast Georgia Arts Tour (year-round), Oktoberfest (September through November), and December’s Holidays in Helen.

One of the top attractions in the entire state, hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Helen celebrates the future while commemorating its historic past when the early settlers came to this remote area. Stop by the Welcome Center in downtown Helen to see the sketches that tell the story of Helen. A village with a mountain heritage and a touch of Bavaria, Helen has created a unique experience for its visitors.

This Week's Tennessee Tourism Roundup

  Walk through 150,000 blooms, get out in nature, hunt for Easter eggs, fly to Neverland with Peter Pan, experience the first show at the new home for Bluegrass Underground, celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll or see the Violins of Hope, a collection of restored instruments used by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Here’s ... (click for more)

Etowah Historical Commission Awarded Grant For Digitization Project

The Tennessee State Library and Archives approved a State Board Programming Regrant Award in the amount of $2,300 to the Etowah Historical Commission and City of Etowah to support EHC’s Archives Digitization Project. State Board Programming Regrants are funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a division of the National Archives. The grants are administered ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Says $4 Million Needed To Put SROs In All Hamilton County Schools

Sheriff Jim Hammond on Thursday night told members of the County School Board that $4 million is needed to provide School Resource Officers for all of the 79 schools. He said currently there are 31 SROs in 29 schools, leaving 50 uncovered. School Board member Rhonda Thurman said she believes the community could come together to provide the necessary funding. "It's something ... (click for more)

Judge Philyaw Denies He Did Not Reappoint Magistrate Because She Was Gay

Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw told a federal jury on Thursday that the fact Elizabeth Gentzler is openly gay had no part in his decision not to reappoint her as a magistrate. "Absolutely not. I have a lot of gay friends, family and acquaintances," he said. However, a court officer at Juvenile Court sided with Ms. Gentzler. Jimmie Cannon said, "Ninety-nine percent ... (click for more)

Tax All County Property Owners Once For School Safety

Our School Board, Sheriff Hammond, school administrators and the community are thoughtfully considering how to maintain safety in classrooms. Currently, discussions indicate more funding will be needed to ensure school safety. If schools are not safe and more money will change that, by all means let’s move to fix the problem.   There are many caring and knowledgeable ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘In God We Trust …And Protecting Our School Children

On a day that the Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that would prominently display the words “In God We Trust” in every school building in the state, the Hamilton County School Board gave my boy Bad Little Johnny cause to get a magic market and scribble underneath, “but ‘Everybody Else Is Gonna’ Need A Pistol!’” Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, who was ... (click for more)