Plan a sleepover with the girls at a mountain cabin or relish a room all to yourself! When it comes to getting away, your biggest decision for the weekend will be picking where to stay – whether in a downtown Helen hotel, cozied up in a mountaintop inn, exploring a historic bed and breakfast or sprawled out in a spacious cabin in the Sautee Valley. Mountain cabins and lodges galore, many of which overlook the Chattahoochee River that also runs through Helen’s downtown, dot the landscape and provide the perfect resting place where, after stocking up on local fare like the famous Black Bean Dip from Betty’s Country, authentic Bavarian pastries from Hofer’s Bakery and local cider or wine, locally-roasted Jumpin’ Goat Coffee, girls can have fun spending time together or taking some time alone walking through the forest or by the river or creeks. Helen and the surrounding White County area lets girls unplug – you never have to leave home base except for occasional trips to town for shopping in boutiques and art galleries, visiting wineries or dining out.
If pampering and scenic views are your desire, relaxation comes naturally at Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn & Spa, a sybaritic retreat sitting in mountaintop splendor in Sautee-Nacoochee, offering two Southern-themed treatments among its menu of therapies: a Firming and Revitalizing Blackstrap Molasses Facial and a Brightening and Deep Moisturizing Peach Body Scrub.
Post-pampering, it’s time to shop Sautee, a metaphor for the community itself: artist-centric, distinctive and fun. Start with InsideOut Sautee, with its emphasis on home furnishings, pottery, jewelry, glass and home to a Local Artists’ Gallery. Find Native American art and crafts at Prairie Trails, and vintage goods at Another Time Antiques, which specializes in American antiques. Sautee is heaven for shoppers whose quest goes well beyond same-old/same-old. Next, move on Nacoochee Village and the Willows Pottery where you can – you guessed it – paint your own pottery. Meander back through history at the Nacoochee Antique Mall and Nora Mill. Got gourd? Pop into The Gourd Place and see the highly decorative and functional kitchen, toy and gift items made from this versatile fruit.
Wander around the downtown Helen area, where cares are left behind as you gab with the gals alongside the Chattahoochee River. Peruse the shops where you’ll find hand-blown, fused and recycled art glass, handcrafted, glazed and painted pottery and hand-pieced and sewn quilts where the number of tiny, even stitches per square is still a badge of honor among practitioners of this age-old art form.
Tempt taste buds at downtown dining destinations and savor a sip at a locally-owned coffee shop or winery – all without ever having to pile into a car! Wineries include award-winning Habersham Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries with a gift shop that is an oenophile’s paradise with French oak barrels, American oak barrels, varietal vinifera wines and Georgia grown and produced wines; Yonah Mountain Vineyards Tasting Room, set in the foothills of Yonah Mountain and offering sips at a beautiful hand-crafted wine bar with sweeping views – home to the State’s only wine cave and deriving its name from the Cherokee word “yonah” for “bear”; the very charming Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards Tasting Room, known as a family farm winery famous for creating hand-crafted wines with a truly personal touch; Serenity Cellars, celebrating the fusion of wine, music and art in a setting with Tuscan sensibilities; Cottage Vineyard and Winery, with beautiful vineyard wedding settings with 360-degree mountain views in the North Georgia Mountains; and Frogtown Cellars, the Dahlonega winery now with a Tasting Room in Helen offering live music and wine every. Check the winery’s calendar of events and expand your experience with local traditions like the Swinging in the Vines music series at Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards and Winery or gather the girls for painting in the Yonah Mountain Vineyard tasting room.