Remember when you were a kid riding in a car with the windows down and feeling wind on your face and catching the air currents with your hand? Or what about having a sleepover with your best friend? What if we did that more as adults?
I recently got to take a week-long vacation with some very good friends. We went for drives and walks in the woods, watched fireflies twinkle in the night, ate ice cream, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. Sometimes as adults, we need to take the time to just have fun.
We had a great time in North Georgia and next time you’re up in the vicinity of Helen, you might want to take the time to check out some of these stops.
The Nacoochee Village Tavern and Pizzeria is a great place for a quick meal. I had the 12 inch Sweet Green pizza made with basil and pine nut pesto, fresh tomato and mozzarella. The server recommended adding ricotta and it was a good call. There was plenty to eat and plenty to save for later!
For a completely different kind of dining experience, there is the Stoval House B&B which offers farm to table dinners and brunch on Sundays. Our service was a little more homey than expected, but I don’t want to say anything too negative about the older gentleman who waited on us… let’s just say I’m pretty sure he was just filling in for someone or something.
But our dinners were good, I had the pan fried trout. For those not accustomed to Southern cooking, you may wonder why the vegetable sides come as “vegan optional”; but for those of us who grew up eating some peas with our side of ham, well, we kind of wonder why anyone would want the vegan option.
While our service left us all a little confused, the views were fabulous, the weather was perfect for eating out on the porch, dinner was good and the desert was amazing. Definitely worth a visit. (Get the Buttermilk Pie!)
Habersham Winery is a nice stop if you enjoy a little wine tasting! Be sure to try Granny’s Arbor if you like a good dessert wine – it was definitely my favorite. Coffee lovers will enjoy the Jumping Goat (chocolate covered coffee beans are must-get treat while you’re there). You can pick up your Southern cooking essentials at Nora Mill Granary – the Spoon Bread mix is worth the trip all on its own.
Support local artisans and get a truly unique souvenir by purchasing something special from one of the many local potters. I brought home a few things from The Willows Pottery which features the work of several artists who you may get the chance to meet while you’re there.
For those of you who have never been to Helen, it’s a bit of a tourist destination most known for its Oktoberfest celebrations. The town is built to resemble an alpine village and is a little over the top for my taste, but there are still some shops and places worth checking out.
If you have kids to shop for, or if, like me, you are a big kid yourself, check out Tim’s Wooden Toy Shop. I love the spinning tops and have a collection of them myself! 🙂 If you’re one of those people for whom everyday is Christmas, you’ll want to check out the Christmas Shoppe on the North end of town (Santa and his sleigh are out front so you can’t really miss it). To satisfy your sweet tooth, stop in the Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen for hand crafted chocolates that are worth the drive.
For eats, The Meeting Place serves breakfast all day… the country fried steak hit the spot for me. I also had a really great bison burger at Cowboys and Angels (though I was beginning to wonder if they had to saddle up and ride the range to hunt down the buffalo, it ended up being worth the wait)!
But enough about shopping and eating, the area abounds with natural beauty that can’t be missed. There are more parks, waterfalls and stops than I can mention, but be sure to check out the State parks in the area. It doesn’t matter what time of year you go, you won’t be disappointed with the views.
Just remember when you head out hiking: wear comfortable supportive shoes, pack a snack, stay hydrated and you might want to pick up a hand carved walking stick while you’re at it.
Some of the places featured in the slide show below are: Anna Ruby Falls, Brasstown Bald, and the Sautee Nachoochee Indian Mound. (Slideshow also features photos from two separate trips to the same area, some were taken during the summer and some in fall).