Sometimes you want to do the same things somewhere new. A relaxing experience relies on some predictability, but also adds intrigue—mountains, river, special food. . . not being home. Making time to just hang out is harder for us guys when we grow up. Alpine Helen is an easy getaway with maximum bro-down benefit. Mark off a fall weekend to drink beer, watch football, play golf, and see nature to bring the gang back together.
Here’s the game plan:
Cold Bier and Amerikanischer Football
It’s too easy to take your crew for granted week after week in the same locale with the same mundane responsibilities. What you need is a fresh fall escape to recapture the ability to chill together. Helen is just a couple hours north of Atlanta but is a world away culturally and visually. Fashioned after Bavarian villages in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is a haven for recreation, food, crafts, and Oktoberfest. It’s fall, and you probably want to watch your favorite college team: fear not, this is part of the plan. German beer, sausage, patio, Chattahoochee River—this simply can’t be an average weekend.
You want the mountains, the Chattahoochee River rippling by, mountain views and exposed beam shoppes: The brew deck gives you Alpine overload.
This is a great time of year to try the Spaten Oktoberfest on tap and pair it with one of their savory apps. Try the Bavarian pretzel bites, which come with house made beer cheese (because more beer is always better!). The Alpine Tater tots are also topped with beer cheese and bacon. Suspend the diet . . . for the team. This deck is great for football viewing and chanting.
Helen is Bavarian in some respects and down-home Southern in others. Cowboys and Angels is a laidback bar and grill with elevated apps: Bourbon Street Crab Cakes, Fried Green Tomatoes; Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese and Pork Belly. Maybe you want a full meal? Go ahead and have steak night here with a dramatic bone-in cowboy cut. Pair it with an old-fashioned or a bourbon mule.
A family-style ol’ tavern with live music on the weekends and extensive sports packages for the big screen: this is where you might want to spend the evening when the conversation starts getting real. Late night chili and the hyper-local smoked trout dip are favorites to be shared.
And back to uber authentic German style. This riverside gastro-pub offers some of the most genuinely German food around, especially suited for fall snacking. Sauerkraut balls and potato pancakes for apps and bratwursts or schnitzels for dinner will signify to you that away is a state of taste.
Don’t squander the peace and serenity of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Do what you already do together: play golf. Be competitive (or not).
If you like the real sport, Innsbruck at Valhalla is strategically located along the Chattahoochee National Forest as part of the Valhalla Resort. The course is known for being challenging and full of natural beauty—but expect hazards. Because of the location, there are frequent elevation changes that require control and cleverness. The front nine holes are more forgiving (you could just stop here), while the back are tough for anyone. One of the par 3 holes has a 150ft drop to the green. Players remark about the mountainside views, the wildlife, and the well-manicured Bermuda grass.
If you want to be a little less buttoned-up, Helen has mini golf too! Alpine Mini Golf Village is a quaint, German-themed course in the heart of downtown. Each of the 18 holes has its own sub-theme as the course winds through flowers and gazebos towards the ice cream shop at the end. Open daily for play on a whim.
It’s Sunday, which means there’s a chance the Falcons will be playing. This is probably a great day to burn some stress in nature, walking deep into the forest, where there are no big screens. Helen is within a short drive of dozens of natural waterfalls that cascade into quiet mossy rocks. If you want to sprinkle just a little adventure into an otherwise indulgent trip, your best choice is Raven Cliff Falls.
Seven miles from downtown Helen, this 4.9-mile (total) in and out hike begins innocently on Dodd Creek, reminiscent of many such creeks that revealed gold in the early 1800s. As you hike, the drops in elevation cause several smaller waterfalls, then the trees thin out, and the trail crosses a stream into a rocky outcrop. The sound of the big falls echoes expand about a quarter mile. Raven Cliff Falls makes a 40-foot straight drop into a small granite cliff down, making for a spectacular sound. There is camping available along the trail, and this might be the perfect time for some spontaneous tent camping.
Escape With Your Crew to Alpine-Helen
Helen only has about two square miles of downtown and a few hundred residents, but it is so packed with vacation opportunities that it’s actually the third most-visited city in Georgia. If this guys’ trip goes well, rest assured you can add different wrinkles to the playbook every time your schedules allow another weekend off: fishing, floating, hiking, wine-tasting, and much more. Tighten up your circle here!