Many folks have heard of Alpine Helen, Georgia. But few people recognize what is fast becoming a tourist attraction and fun place to visit, all on its’ own…the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley.
The area south and west of Helen was originally inhabited by the Cherokee and Choctaw tribes. Legend has it that the son and daughter of rival chieftains, a warrior named Sautee, and a “Princess” named Nacoochee, were forbidden by their parents to be together. In a tragic tale reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, they ran away together to nearby Mount Yonah, and rather than be apart, leapt to their deaths. They were reportedly buried under the Indian Mound that sits as a sentinel, at the intersection of Hwy 17 & Hwy 75, just south of Helen. You can read more about the colorful history of this area on the website www.georgiamountains.org.
Now, in 2012, the valley is a thriving community, just minutes from downtown Helen. There is so much to tell you about the attractions of this area, we are making this a two-part blog post.
In this post, we are focusing on Nacoochee Village, which is the area just south of Helen. Habersham Winery is a well-known for their quality local wines and is the host of the Annual Winefest, usually held the first weekend in May. Next door is the Nacoochee Village Antique Mall, with three floors of unique, rare, cool and funky items to browse through.
Across the road, and right on the Chattahoochee River, is the famous Nora Mill, an operational grist mill since 1876. Tour the mill and shop for jams, sauces, biscuit mix and of course, their delicious grits! Next door is JumpinGoat Coffee Roasters, where you can buy fresh roasted gourmet coffee (to go with your biscuits and grits, of course)!
If you are up for an adventure, ZipnTime Outdoor Adventures may be just what you are looking for! With five different canopy tours to choose from, it will be an unforgettable experience, with unparalleled views. We are very excited to have this type of fun attraction so close to Helen. For more information, call 706-878-zips (9477).
All of this shopping and “zipping” will probably leave you hungry, and there are two great places to eat in Nacoochee Village. Nacoochee Grill is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, serving lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Steaks seafood, sandwiches, salads…try the smoked trout and corn chowder- yummy! If you are in the mood for more casual fare, Tavern Pizza, right next to Nacoochee Grill, serves pizza, sandwiches and salads, along with an extensive beer selection. They also have an outdoor patio where you can relax.
Rounding out the Nacoochee Village experience are more specialty shops, just above the restaurants. The Red Door features fine home furnishings, gifts, and ladies’ fashions; and the Willows Pottery Studio & Gallery is where you can watch the potters at work, and even paint the pottery yourself in their studio! Take home a souvenir designed by- you!
Ok, guys, there is something for you, too- Unicoi Outfitters is just across the road. Fly fishing specialists, they provide year-round guided tours of some of the best trout trophy waters in the area! They also hold classes and the shop is chock full of gear.
So yes, there is more to Helen, Georgia, than just Helen. Our North Georgia Cabins are located close to all of these attractions, for your comfort and convenience. Next blog post we will highlight all that the mountain town of Sautee has to offer- don’t miss it!
Have you visited Sautee or Nacoochee Village? What was your favorite part? We’d love to hear about it.