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The Best Hiking, Food and Shopping in Helen, Georgia
Created by Indiana Lang
Helen, Georgia has been a bit of a question mark of a travel destination for those who aren’t from the area. But those who have truly explored Helen know that this city is a gem admired by many. Indiana Lang shares a list of his favorite Helen highlights.
Hiking - Anna Ruby Falls
If you like short to medium length hiking trails that feature waterfalls, you’ll definitely be a happy camper here. The most popular trail in Helen, GA is Anna Ruby Falls, just a 12 minute drive from downtown Helen up into the mountains. It requires a three dollar entry fee and it’s equipped with bathrooms and a gift shop. Friendly park rangers are also available to help answer questions. The trail is very easy and kid friendly. It's paved the entire way to the falls; however, it is all uphill, so don’t worry about working out before hand. Anna Ruby Falls is well worth it as you look over a small river that runs along the trail and between the wonderful mountains of Georgia. Once you arrive at the falls, you are greeted with the relaxing sound of water falling and the memorable sight of the water-washed rocks of the falls.
Summary - It’s an excellent 1-3 hour adventure that’s great for the whole family, as well as an amazing photography location.
Cost - $3 a person
Food - Bigg Daddy’s Restaurant & Tavern
I was able to eat at about half the restaurants Helen had to offer during my visit. I tried to stick with restaurants rated 4-5 stars on Yelp and a $20 per person price range to keep it affordable for everyone. If you’re wondering what was the best place to eat that didn’t empty the wallet in one night, that would Bigg Daddy's. Everything my wife I ordered was beyond excellent, including tacos, quesadillas, pizza, steak and more. It was so good in fact, we actually ate there twice! I highly recommend their tacos and lobster pizza.
Summary - It’s an great place for lunch or dinner. Bar service and food are above average and the menu is not huge, but still big enough to accommodate and wide range of tastes. It’s a great value for your buck!
Cost - $10-20 a person
Shopping - Nacoochee Village Antique Mall
Helen had many little shops to spend time in and find unique items to take home. However, there were two places that really stood out from all other places. The first was actually in a 100+-year-old home called Nacoochee Village Antique Mall. I was informed by the owner that they have over 50 vendors that supply them weekly with new antiques and collectibles. It’s three stories high and brimming with so many interesting and classic items, you are bound to find something for everyone. Be prepared to spend some quality time searching for treasures as there isn’t really any organizational structure to the mall. For example, I asked for help to find vintage Star Wars items; their best answer was “no idea, look around.” So be prepared to browse the entire store.
Summary - The most extensive vintage and antique selection you may ever come across with pleasant vendors, but it is not well organized and pricing can be all over the place. Worth stopping at to find something cheap, but don’t expect to find a deal.
The Glassblowing Shop
The last place I actually visited on my trip to Helen was The Glassblowing Shop; it’s unlike any other glass shop I’ve been too. The artist, whom I was able to meet, actually created everything in store. Visitors can watch him create his works of art and chat with him about his business. He was very nice to talk with. Everything is priced to sell, most items in the shop were just $5-12 each. He also offered at an even greater discount, hundreds of mystery boxes throughout the store that had older glass works inside for four to ten dollars each. I’ve never seen so much handmade glass art in one place before. It is definitely worth a stop, but make sure you have a few extra bucks to spend; you’ll want to come away with a souvenir.
Summary - Getting the chance to watch the glass blowing was a real treat. The selection was massive and the prices seemed like a steal. One of Helen’s hidden gems!
About Indiana Lang:
Indiana Lang is 23 years old and lives in Clermont, Florida with his wife Miranda. He is currently the lead purchasing manager for Wired Technologies Group, based out of Orlando, FL. Originally from Wausau, Wisconsin he later moved to Orlando at the age of 10. Growing up, he attended West Orange High School, while dual-enrolling at a technical college for Pharmacy and now currently holds over a dozen certifications. He and his wife enjoy exploring the sunshine state by taking weekend trips to the most unique places the state has to offer, including museums, beaches, historic downtown areas, state parks and so much more! Indiana has his writing and photography published in multiple magazines and he is now working with Immersion Travel Magazine as he and his wife explore more of Florida!