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In love with Helen

Helen is a well-rounded little lady. She boasts both peace and tranquility and hustle and bustle. If you take in both like I did, she makes the perfect hostess for a weekend getaway in the mountains of North Georgia.

After countless weekends of raucous parties at my apartment pool, I decided I had to get out of the city for the 4th. Based on my aversion to large crowds of loud, rowdy people, I went with a semi-secluded cabin in the mountains. While I only had the Internet and the word of the kind folks at Georgia Mountain Rentals to rely on, I ended up picking a next-to-perfect little hideaway. The cabin I chose – five miles from Helen, GA next to Unicoi State Park – was quiet, cozy, surrounded by nothing but trees and equipped with cable TV, a DVD player, hot tub, gas grill and almost all the proper tools I needed to whip up several tasty, down home meals for myself and my boyfriend. Success!

One of our tasty creations!

While lounging, cooking and eating are always very satisfying activities, I also do like to get out a bit and take in my surroundings whenever I travel (even if it’s just an hour and a half away from Atlanta). Helen served as the perfect destination for a quick romp through society before returning to seclusion. Built to look like an alpine village (think Bavaria, Germany) and stuffed with as much kitschy, touristy stuff as possible, it is ripe with photo opps as well as unhealthy pub and festival fare such as pizza, ice cream, fudge and funnel cakes. There are also many cheesy souvenirs to be had, and a street performer or two for good measure.

The best thing to do in this ultra tiny tourist mecca, however, is rent a neon inner tube from a company like Cool River Tubing for $5 and float yourself down the river. While this is very fun, don’t expect it to be a relaxing experience. You will be surrounded by dozens of strangers throughout your float, and if you are too cheap to pay $5 extra dollars for a push stick (like me), you will need to rely on many such strangers to push or pull you off of rocks when your tube gets stuck (which it will many times).

If you’re looking for a less crowded tourist experience near Helen, Unicoi State Park is the place for you. For a $5 parking fee, you can hike several trails of varying lengths and difficulty or have a picnic at one of their many pavilions. You’ll definitely see other people in the process, but not that many. There’s also a lake beach there, which is nice for a quick dip, but not so peaceful since it’s very tiny and kids love to swim (and to scream while swimming). If you’d like to see a waterfall, you can do that too by driving about three miles down from Unicoi and paying another $2 per person. Worth it for me since I love a good waterfall!

Unicoi State Park

All in all, Helen was a blissful weekend getaway destination. With mountains, rivers, lakes, streams, a break from the city heat AND several mullet sightings, who could ask for more when celebrating America? The town even launched fireworks, which I was planning to go see, but my hot tub/s‘mores coma got the best of me.

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  1. John Reply

    Wow, Angela! Excellent review! Really enjoyed reading your work. No doubt you will enjoy much success with your writing. I enjoyed both your fun perspective and your honest appraisal of your adventure. Thank you for sharing! Life On! ~ John