Reinvented as a replica of a German Alpine village, Helen offers its visitors something unique to experience practically every month of the year.
Nearly 3 million visitors come to Helen's 2.11 square miles every year to partake in its numerous festivals and events, including the country's longest-running Oktoberfest, one of the largest motorcycle events in the South and an elite hot air balloon race.
On the quieter side, Helen offers breathtaking scenery at Unicoi State Park, home of the famous Anna Ruby Falls as well as a variety of hiking trails, from easy to challenging.
FAMOUS FRIED CHEESE AND MORE
Muller’s Cafe offers authentic German and Czech cuisine. Located off the beaten tourist path at 60 Chattahoochee Strasse, Muller’s is a family-owned restaurant featuring executive chef Zdenek Muller.
Among the made-from-scratch specialties is an entire selection of fried cheese delights, including cheese sticks, cheesesteaks and sandwiches. Customer favorites include a variety of schnitzels — the jaegerschnitzel with creamy mushroom sauce stands out — and schweinebraten, with sauerkraut and Czech bread dumplings.
There are numerous fried cheese options, including a fried cheese kebab and fried cheddar cheese stuffed with ham.
>Plan a trip to Muller’s carefully. It’s open Sunday-Monday and Thursday-Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m.
Tourist tip! The cafe does not have a bar, but the owners allow patrons to bring their own bottle of wine or other adult beverage.
Source: Mullerscafe.com; TripAdvisor.com
Helen claims its Oktoberfest, founded in 1970, is the longest-running such event in the United States. The annual festival commemorates an 1810 royal wedding in Bavaria.
German-style bands from across the country and the world come to Helen Festhalle at 1047 Edelweiss St. for the beer, brats, bands and lederhosen.
>The 2016 edition, the 46th annual, begins Sept. 8 for four days, picks back up Sept. 15 for four more days and continues beginning Sept. 22 until Oct. 30.
Admission is $8 Monday-Friday, $10 on Saturdays and free on Sundays.
>This year’s lineup of bands includes Prost, Europa, the Rheingold Band and Squeeze Box featuring Ted Lange and Mollie B.
Source: Alpine Helen Chamber of Commerce; Alpine Helen Convention & Visitors Bureau
*Oktoberfest isn’t the only festival in Helen. Check out these other annual events:
UP, UP AND AWAY
Helen will host the 44th annual Helen-Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race early next June. It is the South’s oldest balloon event and features 30 or more colorful hot air balloons.
>The event has several opportunities for public interaction, including becoming part of a chase crew. Attendees can also take a tethered ride in a balloon or purchase a Champagne flight over the nearby mountains.
Call 706-878-2271 or visit helenballoon.com for more information.
Source: The Greater Helen Chamber of Commerce
Helen is home to one of the largest motorcycle gatherings in the South.
In early June, the town roars to life with two events at once at Helen Riverside Park. The US Riders News Reunion Run and the 12th Southeast Victory Rally take place over a three-day span.
Thousands of cyclists will be on hand and, along with several recommended rides, there will be nightly dinner parties, raffles, a poker run and a bike show.
>All proceeds go to charity.
Call 478-237-3761 or visit victoryrally.com for more information.