There are some things that you do not expect to see in rural Georgia…..and this is one of them. This windmill is located right outside of downtown Helen, Georgia. However, given its surroundings and the bavarian cottage in the background, you would think otherwise. It nice being surprised like this and is just another reason for anyone to visit this beautiful town north of Atlanta.
As long as I’ve lived in Georgia, I’ve been told that I needed to make sure that I visited Helen. Helen who? I asked, facetiously. Helen, Georgia was their quick retort. Well, Es tut mir leid (I’m sorry, in German. If I’m wrong, I’m sure my friend Laurel from My Expat Germany will correct me)! I had never heard of the place. Over time, try as I might, the idea seemed more and more appealing to me.
So I decided to take the plunge two weeks ago to see what all the fuss was about. As it turns out, Helen is a small and lovely town located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 100 miles north of Atlanta. It is located near the beginning or end (depending on your point of view) of the Appalachian Trail and is the site of the country’s first Gold rush in the 1820’s. Helen is a replica of a quaint German Bavarian village and I think the only way to improve upon its enchanting facade would be to visit when the weather’s a bit warmer.
There is something special about my hometown, Atlanta, GA. People tend to be friendly, helpful and believe in taking time to smell the roses. That means, we find really cool things to do to keep us busy:
1) Take a day trip to Helen, Georgia
Located just a mere 90 minutes north of Atlanta in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen is a Bavarian treat for young and old alike. If you want to be whisked back to simpler times and experience what life must have been like in early 1800’s Germany, this re-creation of an Alpine village is the place to be. Helen is in close proximity to the Chattahoochee River and the Appalachian Trail which lends itself to various outdoor activities that you can enjoy while you are there like: horseback riding, rafting, mountain biking and viewing one of the 30 waterfalls in the area. I will be visiting Helen in March, so I will have a full report for you then.
2) Experience the Sundial Revolving Restaurant
We got to enjoy a stellar lunch at the Sundial last summer. I enjoyed a scrumptious peach pecan crusted summer salad with baby greens, gorgonzola cheese, pecans and freshly cubed peaches and port wine vinaigrette. The main dish was the Blue cornmeal crusted trout with tasso cheese grits cake, sauteed garlic spinach and corn cream. The food was excellent and mid-priced, the view was fantastic and we never got dizzy as the restaurant revolved. Amazingly, only two short years ago, the hotel was significantly damaged by a tornado, but the Sundial managed to escape unscathed.
3) Dahlonega Wineries
One of metro Atlanta’s best kept secrets is the picturesque city of Dahlonega, GA. Most people don’t know this, but the first major gold rush in the US took place here in 1828 long before the (18)49’ers struck gold in California. In fact, the Georgia State Capitol Dome is covered with gold mined from the city. Dahlonega is also the gateway to the Appalachian Trail where you can literally hike from Georgia to Maine. It is also the heart of Georgia’s wine country. Here you can find five outstanding wineries:
4) Stay a spell at The Martyn House in Ellijay, GA
Ever heard of the term, “Glamping”? It simply means Glamourous Camping which takes the tried and true ways of camping to another level. Here you get to stay in real beds, while camped out in vibrantly colored hand-painted luxury tents imported from India. The main house on the property is a century old farmhouse located on 30 acres. The property is very green as they use Eco-friendly toilets and showers. So, if you are looking for that happy medium, give these folks a call. You can enjoy all of the comforts of home and still be able to say that you slept in a tent with a straight face.
5) Tour the CNN Center in downtown, Atlanta
Ever wanted to experience the inner workings of the world’s first 24 hour cable news network? Are you are certified news junkie? Well, you should make it your business to join this lively and informative peek into one of our major news bureaus. Your tour guide will lead you through the control room to the anchor desk. Not much is off limits, so you really get a bird’s eye view into what it takes to disseminate news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “Visitors are assigned specific tour times. You can avoid disappointment during busy times by making advance reservations: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET, (404) 827.2300.”
Now it’s your turn. Imagine a friend is coming to visit your hometown. What special place would you want them to see above all else and why?