Clocking in at less than a two-hour drive north of Atlanta, Helen, Georgia, is the perfect destination for a fun day trip or weekend trip for families. While the Bavarian town is known for its fall activities, including the changing of the leaves and its annual Oktoberfest celebration, there are tons of fun warm-weather options that visitors can enjoy.
From amusement options to outdoor adventures, kids will fall in love with this one-of-a-kind town. And luckily for parents, there are plenty of adult enticements as well, including delicious German cuisine and local wineries.
Check out this list of fun kids’ activities to do in Helen in spring or summer, then book your trip and start packing your bags.
1. Unicoi State Park
Unicoi State Park is nestled in the mountains less than 3 miles north of downtown Helen. In fact, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could hike the trail from downtown Helen to the state park. Once you’re there, try out the explore the trails around the 53-acre Unicoi lake, zip line over the lake, or stay cool by swimming at the sand beach, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Don’t forget to hike to the top of nearby Anna Ruby Falls while you’re there.
2. BabyLand General Hospital
As the birthplace of the renowned Cabbage Patch Kids, BabyLand General is housed in a classic white plantation home situation on 650 scenic acres. Just 15 minutes south of downtown Helen, the babydoll hospital is an experience your kids will never forget. Watch the birth of new Cabbage Patch babies and even help name them from the crowd. Entrance is free, but you’d be hard-pressed to leave the hospital without a doll or toy in your hands. Let your child choose a doll off the floor—or pay more for the customized adoption process.
3. Georgia Mountain Coaster
Located in downtown Helen, the nearly 1-mile Georgia Mountain Coaster is another fun entertainment option for kids of all ages. The coaster slowly winds its way above downtown before zooming back to South Main Street. Even if your child is a bit squirmy about fast rides, he/she can ride with you on this coaster as you manage the handheld brake that controls the speed. To ride solo in a coaster car, kids must be 54 inches. Otherwise, they can ride with a driver who is at least 16 years old.
4. Mountain, Creek, and Waterfall Hikes
It’s hard to believe that less than two hours north of Atlanta lies the southern point of two beautiful mountain ranges: The Blue Ridge Mountains and The Appalachian Mountains. And while there are countless intense hikes close to Helen with amazing trails and views, there are quite a few trails that are perfect for kids, too.
From Dukes Creek Falls to Anna Ruby Falls, here’s a list of 8 short easy hikes near Helen that are great for kids, clocking in at less than 2.5 miles. In summer, be sure to dress your kids in water shoes and swimsuits, as many hikers splash and swim in pockets of the many creeks and waterfall pools on these hiking trails.
5. Miniature Golf
Once your kids realize Helen has mini-golf, you’ll be hard-pressed to leave town without playing a round of putt-putt. Helen boasts three miniature golf courses all for less than $10 to play a round of 18 holes. Bavarian Mountain Miniature Golf and Arcade has a course atop an overlook of downtown Helen, making it the most scenic course. The Pirate’s Cove mini-golf course is located near the Oktoberfest Hall and is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. Alpine Mini Golf and Scoop de Scoop Ice Cream Parlor is located at the far south end of downtown Helen and offers putters a 10% discount on ice cream after a round of golf.
6. Downtown Helen
Let your kids explore the cobblestone streets of downtown Helen by visiting shops featuring homemade candy, ice cream, glass blowing, handcrafted wooden toys, and more. Or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around downtown, which is always a big hit with kids. If the weather is nice, eat at one of the German restaurants overlooking the Chattahoochee River (which may be filled with tubers) or walk to the playground at Unicoi Hill Park, which is right off Main Street.
7. Hardman Farm State Historic Site
Preserved as a state historic site, Hardman Farm is located on the southeast edge of downtown Helen. If your kids love history, then exploring this 173-acre property will be right up their alley. Take a guided tour of the property to learn how milk was processed and transported at the dairy barn that was operational from 1910 until the mid-1920s. Also, get a look into the main house built in the 1870s and former horse barn. Check out this family-friendly calendar of special events at the farm, including Farm Animal Fun Days, movie nights, book signings, farm-to-table dinners, organized guided hikes, kids’ camps, celebrations, and more.
While you’re there, be sure to meander along the one-mile Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail, which connects Hardman Farm to the edge of downtown Helen. This wide-paved trail parallels the river and has a few points of interest along the way, including the rushing dam for Nora Mill Granary.
8. River Tubing and Watersliding
Despite the mountain elevation, Helen is plenty warm for water activities during the summer months. And shooting the Hooch (Chattahoochee River) is an activity that kids absolutely love. Tubing is one of the top tourist activities for visitors and locals alike, and the jury is still out on whether Cool River Tubing or Helen Waterpark & Tubing offers the best experience. Check out these tips for everything you need to know about tubing in Helen.
Earn bonus points with your kids by upgrading your tubing experience at Cool River Tubing to purchase a waterslide pass to use halfway down the river or spend the day at Helen Waterpark.
9. Zip Lining and Ropes Course
If your kids are adventurous and have no fear of heights, be sure to try one of the zip lining courses at Nachoochee Adventures while you’re in Helen. Even kids as young as 5 years old can participate since the guides do all the hard work by braking and stopping you on the ropes. The company also offers a ropes challenge course and a giant swing.
Helen has much to offer its spring/summer guests. From endless outdoor activities to entertainment options to waterplay, your kids will beg you to make your trip to the Bavarian town an annual event.
Check out our other post Fun Things to Do in Helen with kids.