980714 - Helen, Georgia - The Chatahoochee River in Helen, GA attracts many tubers during the hot summer months. Photo taken on July 14, 1998. (AJC Staff Photo/Jean Shifrin)
Credit: Willoughby Mariano
Credit: Willoughby Mariano
Shoot the Hooch – and more. Downstream from the falls lies Unicoi Lake and the waters of the Chattahoochee River. Families looking for a more passive outdoor mountain experience can take the short float from Cool River Tubing. The 60- to 90-minute trip is $8 and includes the tube (with bottoms for children aged 3-12), life jacket and shuttle ride. A longer float is also available, as is the option to buy a trip on a water slide set in the woods. Helen Tubing and Waterpark also offers tubing on the Chattahoochee, as well as four separate slides and its own lazy river inside the water park. Tickets are $20 for all water features and a rock climbing wall.
Take to the air. Cool River Adventures, the tubing company's sister operation, also offers rock climbing as well as more daring adventures. The $15 small adventure course, designed for children weighing at least 40 pounds, has five "challenge" features and a short zip line. For children weighing at least 70 pounds and adults, the $25 big course includes 11 challenges and a short zip line. An extreme adventure, for adults only, has 13 elements and a zip line over the Chattahoochee. Some combos are also available that include tubing.
Make it sweet. The Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen has both a store and separate factory on Main Street for its hand-crafted chocolates and candies, as well as peanut and pecan brittle. The factory offers free tours for those who remember to call ahead (1-800-524-3008) to see the confectionery in action – and receive a small treat at the end.
Sample hearty German fare. Given its Alpine effect, Helen is home to several restaurants that specialize in German food and beer. The more popular include the Old Heidelberg Restaurant and Pub, which has an expansive outdoor beer garden in addition to German cuisine; Mullers Famous Fried Cheese Café, which as its name suggests offers fried cheese specialties beyond traditional fare; and Hofer's of Helen, a café and bakery featuring a stone hearth oven for fresh-baked strudel and more.Take to the (mini) links. Helen has two miniature golf courses designed as mini Alpine scenes, with everything from covered bridges to wildflower gardens.
Alpine Mini Golf Village offers an 18-hole course with an ice cream parlor as a reward at the end. Alpine is also pet-friendly for those who bring along furry family members. Bavarian Mountain Miniature Golf has two 18-hole courses as well as a large arcade, with skeeball, air hockey and more inside. While not pet-friendly, Bavarian Mountain has canine mascots Romeo and Juliet, who have their own YouTube video about their golf training.
One-tank trips is an occasional series from The Atlanta Journal Constitution that highlights places you can visit on – you guessed it – one tank of gas. Contact Stephanie Toone at email@example.com with questions or ideas.