Every now and then you just need a little weekend getaway. Am I right, or am I right? And what better excuse than a friend’s birthday? Our friend Meghan celebrated her birthday just recently, and when her husband Nick asked if we’d like to join them for a mini-vacation in Helen for it, we immediately jumped at the idea.
I went to Helen, GA for family vacations growing up and I’d talked about it to Jimmy, Nick and Meghan in casual conversation over the years, and they all were intrigued. I’d only been in the summer, though, when we’d raft and tube along the rivers, so I knew winter in Helen would be a little different. Plus, I hadn’t visited there in over ten years, so when Meghan decided that’s where she wanted to go for her birthday, I was stoked to check it out from a totally different perspective (and this time I’d be old enough to drink the yummy German beers!).
Jimmy and I drove to Richmond Hill Thursday after work and stayed at my mom’s so we could leave super early Friday morning. So Friday at 6 a.m., we stopped to pick up our friends Brittnee and Travis, who would be joining us for the weekend, and hit the road. I’m pretty bummed I didn’t get a picture of the stuffed-to-the-brim Jeep, but it was pretty impressive how much we fit in there (and also very pathetic how much four of us needed for a two-night trip). Time to make the 4.5 hour drive up to north Georgia!
After a few strops and an eventful drive, we made it to our cabin right around noon. It was so perfect!
The cabin was only a few miles from town and was in a beautiful, tucked away wooded area. When you walked in, there were tall ceilings, wooden floors and walls, and a fabulous stone fireplace. The mater bedroom with jacuzzi tub was on the entry level, a private bedroom with a queen bed and bathroom took up all of the upstairs space, and a sitting area, full bath, game room and sauna make up the lower level. The hot tub on the back of the wraparound porch was icing on the cake. AND THERE WAS SNOW ON THE GROUND!
Once we all got settled in, the six of us bundled up in preparation for the 20-degree weather and headed out for lunch.
We strolled through town and took in all the cuteness. If you’ve never been, Helen is one of those charming places full of character that you should probably add to your bucket list. The little town of Helen is a quaint little German village that is great to visit all seasons during the year. The “city” is made up of several restaurants, many of them German, pubs, coffee shops, and other locally owned shops. It really is like walking through a little Germany (from what I’ve heard and seen, at least)!
We found a cute little restaurant called The Troll Tavern where we decided to stop for lunch, and enjoyed warm sandwiches and cold German beers. Annnnddd followed it up with a little photo shoot. I was WAY too excited about all of the snow and ice on the ground and in the water!
After lunch, we walked up to Betty’s Country Store (a must-see, it’s precious) to pick up a few necessities. During the walk there we discovered this strange but interesting glass blowing shop …
… Hansel and Gretel’s candy shop (where we picked up some fudge and caramel apples) …
… and this mini frozen waterfall! (Okay, it was actually a fountain.)
We headed back to the cabin for some wine and R&R before going back out for dinner.
Oh, and some pictures in the snow.
Dinner time and time to bundle up even more – it was going to be a low of 18! Back to town we went. We all agreed on German food for dinner, obviously, so we walked around until we stumbled across Old Heidelberg Restaurant. Walking in is a little deceiving. The lower level is made up of a dated smokey bar, which I imagine is a great time when you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, but the restaurant is upstairs (and is not smokey). The atmosphere wasn’t super thrilling, but the food was amazing. Again, I’m bummed I didn’t take a picture. Brittnee and I split the schnitzel stuffed with cream cheese and chives, spaetzle and German potato salad. Drool.
*Spoiler: This was my favorite part of the trip.* When we walked outside after dinner it was SNOWING!! And not just tiny flurries – it was actually snowing! That was my first time ever seeing actual falling snow, so to say I was excited is a bit of an understatement. We southerners don’t get to see that very often!
The rest of the evening was spent playing games and celebrating Meghan’s birthday.
Oh, and the boys enjoyed some guy time in the hot tub with cigars and whiskey. Hehe.
The next morning I jumped out of bed to see if it was still snowing. It wasn’t, but there was much more fresh-fallen snow on the ground! While Nick so kindly made us breakfast, I headed out to build a snowman.
Ta da! My very own Olaf. (Cut me some slack. There wasn’t that much snow! I had to make do with what I was given.) Brittnee came out to play in the snow, too.
A few hours later, we headed into town for lunch at Big Daddy’s. It was pretty dang tasty, if I may say so myself.
Our initial plan for the day was to hike up to Anna Ruby Falls, but the roads were closed due to weather so we hit up the wineries instead. Rough, I know.
The first winery we stopped at was Frogtown. I expected all of the wines to be sweet and fruity, but they actually had a wide variety of dry reds and whites, along with fruity and dessert wines. Jimmy and I did the red and white wine tasting, Nick and Megan did the white wine tasting, and Brittnee and Travis opted for the sweeter wines.
Next stop: Habersham Winery. They have several different wines as well, but I thoroughly enjoyed their sweeter ones. The peach and the red muscadine wines are divine! Opposite from Frogtown, their tastings are free which was a nice plus.
After we were all wined up, we headed back to the cabin for the night. The guys decided to prepare us a nice meal (beef Wellington, roasted potatoes and a Swiss chard salad!) so while they cooked, us three girls ran outside for some hot tub time.
Dinner and games followed!
Sunday morning came way too soon and it was time to leave. We packed up and loaded the cars … which is when I found Olaf decapitated and missing an arm :(! His head melted right off – bless his little heart.
Nick, Meghan and their pups headed back to Jacksonville, and the rest of us went out for one last German meal before heading back. Hofer’s for the win. I had chicken and spaetzle soup, and a hot ham and Swiss sandwich with German potato salad, and It was probably the best meal of the weekend.
Of course we couldn’t leave without taking a picture with Santa in front of the Christmas Shoppe …
… and swinging by Jumpin Goat Coffee Roasters (where I found peach coffee!) for some delicious local caffeine to get us through our drive.
The time came to hit the road and leave that little slice of heaven. But it won’t be long until we return … we decided we all want to go during the summer for tubing AND in October for Oktoberfest! Until next time, Helen.