Helen is Georgia’s hub for everything German. It became known as a tourist capital shortly after remodeling the whole town to look like a German village in the Bavarian Alps. The town is also known for the longest running Oktoberfest in the United States, which lasts six weeks from mid-September through Oct. 27. The festival ushers in the fall leaf season, which puts visitors right in the middle of the changing of the leaves in the beautiful North Georgia mountains. Oktoberfest is a celebration. This means tasting Bavarian beer and bratwurst and learning how to dance, and there are plenty of things to do that the whole family will enjoy!
1. Have a night on the town: Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Helen’s downtown. Shop for souvenirs and gifts while listening to German music from outdoor speakers. Make sure to pick up sweet treats from a German bakery or visit Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen. Paint your own toy at Elfmade Toys.
2. Take your kids on an adventure: Zip lining through the North Georgia trees at Nacoochee Outdoor Adventures, or Cool River Zip lines is the perfect activity for kids starting around age 9 and up. Take a hike and experience the changing of the leaves. Every Saturday in October, Unicoi State Park Lodge hosts a guided hike from the lodge to Helen.
3. Experience Halloween: There are some really fun haunted adventures in the North Georgia area. Take a haunted hayride, or find your way through a corn maze. Petting zoos and outdoor movies are also a must of the fall season!
5. Attend the annual Oktoberfest parade: A German parade kicks off the celebration and normally occurs on the first Saturday of the festival. Afterward, play a game of mini golf or walk around the town.
4. Experience Germany: “Oompah-central” is the Hall where the bands play and people dance. Although it may be overwhelming for some parents because of the crowd, kids are allowed. It is the perfect place to try hot-off-the-grill German-style wursts or sausages, and dance to traditional German music.
Bring the whole family to the North Georgia mountains and experience Oktoberfest and Germany without leaving Georgia! Hotels fill up very quickly, so book your trip today. For more information visit www.whitecountychamber.org.