Never a Lack of Activities
Things to do in Helen
Pan and Screen for Treasure
If you ever wanted to pan for gold or screen for gemstones like the old timers, this is the place for you. Gold ‘n Gem Grubbin’ is North Georgia’s only commercially operating gold mine. Park your stool in the shade of the creek and try your luck at finding gold nuggets and gemstones with a borrowed shovel, pan, bucket and screens. If you prefer an easier way… At Dukes Creek Gold & Ruby Mines you choose a bucket of mixed gem ore and screen them at a panning table. A trained and helpful staff will help you identify your treasure. Buckets have precious and semi-precious stones, fossils, quartz crystal, bloodstones or even gold. “Everyone left with their own bag of treasures,” said a customer from Lawrenceville. Both destinations will help you design a custom piece of jewelry with your finds! How cool is that?!
No matter how many times you visit Unicoi State Park there is something different to explore. Of course the seasons change, making the mountains and trails either a blaze of color in autumn, a gentle white in the winter, a riot of color in the spring or a beautiful green in summer but at this State Park, you will always find activities for the whole family. You can camp in one of 80 sites for tents, RV’s and trailers or choose the lodge, with all the comforts of home. Enjoy the beach around Smith Lake and share a delicious meal at the picnic pavilion. Fish in the lake, paddle a canoe or rent a pedal boat. For the adventurous, head out on the challenging seven-mile mountain bike trail or hike to Anna Ruby Falls. Nature, culture, history and recreation programs are ongoing year round making each visit to Unicoi unique.
A Four Season Park
Once upon a time a ten-year old boy, Xavier Roberts, followed BunnyBee behind a waterfall and discovered a magical cabbage patch where babies were being born and needed adopting. BabyLand General Hospital was built so the Cabbage Patch Kids could live and play until they were adopted. But that’s not the end of the story. Combining the Appalachian art of needle sculpture with the art of quilting, each doll is a one-of-a-kind creation. Millions of these adorable soft sculpture babies and kids have found life-long happy homes after being adopted from the beautiful 650-acre campus in Cleveland, Georgia. For those babies that need a little cleaning, send them to Bath Camp. There is even an Emergency Room for unexpected surgeries. Events are held at the beautiful mansion all year including Tea Parties, Collector Club events, Easter Extravaganza, Fall Festival and the Christmas lighting of BabyLand.
Treasures in the Red Barn
The Amish hand-select each piece of wood to match the specific piece of furniture being built and make sure the grain of the wood is in harmony with the design. The skill of making furniture is often passed down through generations of Amish families and specific designs and details become something to look for when collecting pieces. For 40 years the owner of Amish Red Barn has lived and worked among the Amish in Pennsylvania, developing contacts with talented craftsmen. He verifies his furniture, quilts, rocking horses, mailboxes, children’s wagons, hand-painted decorative items, and hex signs are Amish made before offering them for sale in his shop. He restored his 1899 farmhouse just outside of Helen then built a big red barn with a silo next to it, opening his shop in 1998. He will accept special orders if you can’t decide among the beautiful items in the store.
Charming Nacoochee Village
For a leisurely afternoon during your time in North Georgia, head to historic Nacoochee Village for shopping and adventure. As you are strolling, sip a hot cup of joe brewed with roasted coffees sourced from around the world from Jumpin Goat Coffee Roasters. Watch the gristmill powered by the Chattahoochee River at the Nora Mill Granary. Stop by Nora Mill Next Door to browse the thousands of items in their Country Store (including those from the grist mill) or in the General Store. Don’t miss the Nacoochee Village Antique Mall and its treasures or the Willows Pottery Working Studio. Habersham Vineyard and Winery offers tastings and a large gift shop with gourmet food products – perfect for producing a delicious picnic lunch. Try your hand at trout fishing, run the rapids or zipline with one of the outfitters in the village. Share your stories over pizza at the Nacoochee Village Tavern and Pizzeria.
Oompah! It’s OktoberFest
The German tradition of Oktoberfest is so big one month can’t hold all the festivities. Activities get underway in Helen in mid-September with a parade and the opening of the huge Festhalle with its long rows of tables. Wurst and brats are on the menu along with the traditional side dishes of red cabbage and potato salad and, of course, steins of German beer and glasses of a variety of wines. Throughout the festival’s run bands and performers take the stage for fun-filled sets of music and dancing. The dance floor is open to polka, waltz or do the “Chicken Dance.” You’ll hear cowbells, the accordion and the Alphorns blowing as you make your way through the village. Have your picture taken with men and women in traditional German dress including lederhosen. Festhalle is open the first two weekends of September then daily through the end of October.
Love, Life and the Little Things
So many things make a vacation memorable. Whether it’s a moment with a loved one, the laughter of children or a wonderful indulgence, it’s always the little things you treasure and end up sharing. For the ultimate in relaxation, try yoga or a massage at A Garden for Wellness or spend the day at the spa at Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn. Doesn’t a foot massage sound divine? Give your pets a holiday at Moondoggie. Hopefully they’ll get a great souvenir from the selection of very cool stuff. Garden Gate Catering, Paddlefish Productions and Cherokee Flowers will commemorate your wedding, family reunion or special occasion with extraordinary service. And if you are looking for a permanent reminder of your trip or special event, Artistic Ink Tattoo and Body Piercing will immortalize the design of your choice.