It's in the air: the smell of schnitzel and beer, the sound of the oompah-pah band. It's time for one of the oldest and best Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States in Helen, Georgia!
Helen is a charming alpine city tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Chattahoochee River. Although it's only an hour and a half drive northeast of Atlanta, Helen's Bavarian-styled buildings and cobblestone streets will have you thinking you somehow arrived in Germany.
Helen's famous Oktoberfest began on September 19 this year and runs through October 27. You can expect to see a wonderfully eclectic mix of people, ranging from octogenarians in lederhosen to hillbillies in overalls. The center of the festivities is the Festhalle, a walled pavillion with one side open to the river.
There are dozens of long tables for communal seating, concession areas, bars, a dance floor and a stage for the various bands. You can always expect some great music at the Helen Oktoberfest. (Check out the 2013 band schedule.)
As expected, there are lots of traditional German delicacies to enjoy such as pretzels, schnitzel and, of course, Bavarian beer which you can enjoy in their outdoor biergarten.
If you need a break from the beer and Bavarian revelry, Helen has plenty to offer, including a market square with galleries, shops and restaurants.
Nature lovers will enjoy canoeing, fishing, kayaking and tubing on the Chattahoochee River. Breathtaking Anna Ruby Falls, with its rare double waterfall, offers amazing photo ops. For something different, try a gold mine tour!
At this time of year, though, the main attraction in Helen is the Oktoberfest. Yes, it can be touristy and boisterous at times, but then again, that's kinda the reason it's such a fun event.So, polka your way down to beautiful Helen, Georgia! You'll not only experience an adorable Alpine village, but a wonderful Oktoberfest that guarantees a great vacation for the entire family.