By Jerry Brown
Head to North Georgia’s White County, including Helen, and the villages of Sautee and Nacoochee, conveniently located about an hour north of Atlanta, for the ideal getaway with easy accessibility to a variety of adventures in the surrounding areas.
Gain perspective as you soar to new heights with seasonal hot air balloon or helicopter rides that give a new vantage point of the surrounding beauty. Hop in the saddle with horseback riding or take it to two wheels as you zoom up and down tree-lined paths while mountain biking. Outdoor enthusiasts can even find adventures like zip lining at Nacoochee Outdoor Adventures or Sunburst Stables, just nine miles from city center.
Jump into nature with a hike at Anna Ruby Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest, which has more than 40,000 acres in White County; follow the moderate ½-mile paved trail that leads to two viewing decks of these twin waterfalls. At Unicoi State Park and Lodge, take advantage of educational programming including workshops, lectures and concerts. Wildwood Outfitters covers four sections of the Chattahoochee River and caters to every rental and trip need when it comes to rafting, canoeing and kayaking.
Tempt taste buds at downtown dining destinations and savor a sip at a locally-owned coffee shop or winery – all without ever having to pile into a car. Wineries include award-winning Habersham Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries with a gift shop that is an oenophile’s paradise with French oak barrels, American oak barrels, varietal vinifera wines and Georgia grown and produced wines; Yonah Mountain Vineyards Tasting Room, set in the foothills of Yonah Mountain and offering sips at a beautiful hand-crafted wine bar with sweeping views – home to the State’s only wine cave and deriving its name from the Cherokee word “yonah” for “bear”; Sylvan Valley Cellars, part of Sylvan Valley Lodge; where estate grown wines have achieved recognition and acclaim from national and international wine critics, writers, and judges; the very charming Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards, known as a family farm winery famous for creating hand-crafted wines with a truly personal touch; Serenity Cellars, celebrating the fusion of wine, music and art in a setting with Tuscan sensibilities; and, The Cottage Vineyard and Winery, a beautiful vineyard with 360-degree mountain views.
Shop Nacoochee Village on Main Street just outside of the Helen city limits for a unique mixture of art and heritage, including an 1876 grist mill at Nora Mill – still producing grains – and buy some grits or pioneer’s porridge at Nora Mill Granary Next Door.
In the evening, rest easy at any of Helen and the surrounding White County’s myriad accommodations, including mountain cabins and lodges, bed and breakfasts and downtown hotels.
Visit www.HelenGa.org for more details about planning your getaway.
Jerry Brown is the Executive Director of the Alpine Helen/White County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. For more information on events around Alpine Helen/White County, visit helenga.org.