5 Fun Facts about Helen
Helen’s small size hasn’t stopped it from becoming the third most visited town in all of Georgia. Helen is only beat out by Georgia’s other two major tourist destinations, Atlanta and Savannah. It’s no surprise that people come from all over to experience Helen’s Bavarian charm and the surrounding wonders of the North Georgia mountains.
Many people don’t know that America’s first Gold Rush was in Georgia, not California. Gold was discovered in the Nacoochee Valley in 1821, just five miles southeast of Helen. The discovery of gold in the area brought a huge influx of settlers and other opportunists who quickly established towns and settlements throughout North Georgia. Dahlonega is a historic Gold Rush town located about 35 miles away from the Sylvan Valley Lodge and Cellars. While you’re there, visit the Dahlonega Gold Rush Museum to learn more about this fascinating moment in our nation’s history. If you have the time, consider traveling on to the old White County Courthouse in Cleveland, where you will find an impressive 6-foot tall bronze statue of a gold seeker holding a precious nugget above his head.
Helen wasn’t always the lovely German-inspired village you know it as today. Helen has its roots in the logging and mining industries. When the timber industry fell into decline after WWI, two local businessmen named Pete Hodkinson and Jimmy Wilkins found an innovative way to uplift and transform their town. They decided to completely update and renovate the town to resemble an Alpine mountain town. Their goal was to bring the Alps to Appalachia. Local artist John Kollock produced the original designs. The facelift was a massive success and continues to attract tourists to this day.
Habersham Winery is one of the oldest and largest wineries in Georgia. It is located right here in Helen, less than 5 minutes from the Sylvan Valley Lodge. Habersham has been producing award-winning Georgia wines since 1983 and has helped to make North Georgia an up-and-coming wine destination. The region’s mountainous terrain and rich soil combine to create a distinctive class of wines that are quickly gaining national and international prominence.
You likely know Helen is a small town, but do you know how small it is? Helen is only 2.1 square miles in size and is inhabited by about 500 residents. Despite its tiny size, Helen is overflowing with charm and countless fun things to do, including delicious restaurants, outdoor activities, festivals, family fun, and so much more.
Planning a trip to Helen, Georgia? Book a stay at the Sylvan Valley Lodge & Cellars, a beautiful bed & breakfast winery located at the base of Mount Yonah.