Helen, Georgia North Georgia

10 Amazing Outdoor Things to Do in Helen this Fall

A fall trip to Helen lends itself to a plethora of things to do, including epic fall foliage, gorgeous mountain views and an endless list of outdoor adventures that will leave you wanting more.

American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne said it best: “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

If you’ve booked a fall trip to Helen, you’re coming at the perfect time. Not only is the fall weather typically sunny and crisp, but the leaves begin changing hues and the temperatures are perfect for adventuring outside during the day and cozying up at night.

From ziplining to horseback riding to hiking, we’ve got you covered for fun outdoor activities to do this fall in Helen.

10 Amazing Outdoor Things to Do in Helen this Fall

1. Enjoy a Taste of Bavaria Outdoors

Helen is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration every fall. And though many memories are made in the town’s Festhalle, there is still much fun to be had outside during the temperate weather of October and November.

Related: Complete Guide to Oktoberfest

Many of the town’s restaurants and bars have outdoor seating—along or overlooking the Chattahoochee River or on a scenic deck or patio in downtown. If you’re looking for German food and beer with outdoor seating, try:

  • Alpine Brew Deck
  • Big Daddy’s Restaurant and Tavern
  • The Troll Tavern
  • Two Tire Tavern
  • Mueller’s Famous Fried Cheese Cafe
  • Hofbrauhaus Restaurant and Pub
  • King Ludwig Biergarten
  • Nacoochee Village Tavern & Pizzaria
  • Paul’s Margarita Deck
  • Chattahoochee Dog Haus
  • Cimmi’s Courtyard Cafe
  • Bodensee
  • Cowboys and Angels

Once you get your fill of hearty German food and cold German beer, just make sure you use a transportation service in Helen to get home safely.

10 Amazing Outdoor Things to Do in Helen this Fall: Unicoi State Park
Unicoi Lake in late October in Helen

2. Explore Unicoi State Park and Anna Ruby Falls

Just a short 5 minute drive north of downtown Helen, Unicoi State Park and nearby Anna Ruby Falls are the closest spots to see the leaves change colors for fall. Explore the 1,050-acre state park on your own—or hike the 2.2 mile loop around Unicoi Lake to enjoy amazing views of fall foliage. Simply pay a $5 daily state park pass and $3 per person for Anna Ruby Falls (kids under 16 years old are free)

Note: You must drive through Unicoi State Park to access Anna Ruby Falls. Reach the falls by walking the 1/2-mile paved trail to the top to two different lookout decks. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hike the 4.6-mile Smith Creek Trail that connects the base of the falls to Unicoi State Park.

Related: Where to See the Most Colorful Fall Foliage Near Helen

3. Zip Line through the Forest

With its mountainous terrain, Helen is the perfect location for adventurous ziplining courses. Try the zipline course at Unicoi State Park, which flies over the scenic Unicoi Lake. Or drive 15 minutes east of downtown Helen to explore Sunburst Adventures, where you can zipline, ride horses, rent ATVs or kayak. Nachoochee Adventures, just south of downtown Helen, offers a 1/2-mile Big Zip with spectacular views of Mount Yonah and the Sautee Indian Mound, as well as a ropes obstacle course.

Yonah Mountain Vineyards with a view of Yonah Mountain in the background

4. Stop by Local Vineyards with Fall Views

If relaxing as you sip from vineyard patios surrounded by the mountains sounds like your idea of the perfect fall activity, you’ll be amazed at just how many vineyards reside near Helen. Most offer tours and tastings—or you can purchase wine by the glass or bottle to take home with you. Whether you prefer red or white wine (or even rosé or muscadine), North Georgia wineries offer an array of grape varieties for all palates.

Related: Where to Find the Best Wineries Near Helen

Though there are several dozen well-reputed wineries and vineyards in North Georgia, those on the Unicoi Wine Trail are closest to Helen, including Habersham Winery, Serenity Cellars, The Cottage Vineyard, Yonah Mountain Vineyards, CeNita Vineyards and the Sylvan Valley Lodge & Winery. All have scenic outdoor seating that showcase the beauty of this area of North Georgia.

Apart from the Unicoi Wine Trail, there are several other wineries that are less than 25 minutes from downtown Helen, making them the perfect places to visit on your trip to this one-of-a-kind Bavarian town. See our favorite wineries to visit near Helen.

5. Relax on a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride

Carriage rides are one of Helen’s big draws for visitors—and Alpine Carriage Company and Pegasus Horse Drawn Carriages are available in downtown Helen to cater to tourists. Take a romantic ride around downtown or go the historical route. These companies also offer special rides for weddings, as well as hotel and restaurant pick-up. Some buggies are handicap accessible and can hold up to 20 people.

A fall trip to Helen lends itself to a plethora of things to do, including epic fall foliage, gorgeous mountain views and an endless list of outdoor adventures that will leave you wanting more.
Yonah Mountain near Helen in late October

6. Hit the Hiking Trails to See the Fall Foliage

Hiking trails near Helen may be the cheapest fall activities around. Though many hikes near Helen require a minimal parking fee of $5 or less, there are also some great hikes less than 30 minutes from Helen that require no fee:

We’ve also put together a list of easy, scenic short hikes near Helen if that suits you best, but you can also try some of the hiking trails at 6 nearby state parks.

7. Go Horseback Riding

One of the best ways to soak up North Georgia’s fall scenery is to go horseback riding. Helen boasts two reputable local riding options: Chattahoochee Stables and Sunburst Adventures.

Only an 8 minute drive east of downtown Helen, Chattahoochee Stables in nearby Sautee, Georgia, offers a 1-hour guided trail ride for riders ages 6+. The majority of the company’s trail horses are quarter horses, which are known for having a calm, steady and gentle demeanor that makes them ideal for beginner riders. The 1-hour ride will take you through views of the Chattahoochee River and beautiful mountain scenery.

Another great option is Sunburst Adventures, a 17-minute drive east of downtown Helen to Clarksville, Georgia. The company offers several guided trail options, ranging from 1-3 hours. Kids 7 years and up can ride alone, while those ages 3-6 can double up on a horse so they don’t miss out on the fun. Sunburst’s trails pass by various scenic points, such as a moonshine still, miniature animal farm, as well as picturesque mountain tops and valleys.

8. Jump on a Mountain Bike Trail

If you’re into mountain biking, try the courses at Yonah Preserve TrailsSmithgall Woods State Park or Unicoi State Park. Fall is the perfect time to mountain bike, and not just because of the changing leaves surrounding the trail. Cooler temps make riding more comfortable and great weather usually means the trails are in better conditions (less muddy patches).

If you run into any issues with your mountain bike, take it to Woody’s for repairs and accessories.

9. Travel Back in Time at Hardman Farm Historic Site

Preserved as a state historic site, Hardman Farm is a 173-acre property featuring a main house built in the 1870s and a dairy barn that was operational from 1910 until the mid-1920s. Take a guided tour of the property to learn how milk was processed and transported during this time period, as well as get a look into the house and former horse barn. Check out a 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.

Nachoochee Indian Mound just south of Downtown Helen

10. See Key Landmarks on a Self-Guided Driving Tour

If you want to see all the iconic sights around Helen, there is one easy, organized yet informative way to do that. The Sautee Nacoochee Center launched a free smartphone app called The Heart & Heritage of the Northeast Georgia Mountains that offers self-guided driving tours of the region. The app has 16 notable stopping points along the way and interesting historical information about each landmark and landscape. It also includes a carousel of images featuring the region’s landscapes, culture and history, which is read to visitors by a third-generation settler, as well as a list of local attractions, potteries and an up-to-date calendar of events.

Book Your Trip to Helen

As you can see, you can spend a long weekend in this Bavarian town in the fall and not have time to make it through even half of these amazing activities and adventures in Helen. That simply means you’ll need to come back again next fall—in fact, just make Helen an annual trip!

What is your favorite outdoor activity to do in Helen in the fall?



I'm a full-time wife and semi-stay-at-home mom to four young kids. Day to day, I help my husband with his small business, but when I have any extra time, you can find me cooking or being active outdoors with my family. We live at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains and are embracing modern homesteading month by month.

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