This town, once a lumber-mill settlement, has been transformed into an Alpine village. In fact, if you blink, you might believe that you've been transported to a German or Swiss Bavarian village. The place is filled with authentic-looking German chalets, cobblestone streets, more than 200 shops that sell imported German or Swiss merchandise, and restaurants that serve delicious schnitzel, rouladen, sausages, strudel and other typical Bavarian fare. Store owners and shopkeepers even dress in lederhosen and dirndl skirts to accent the feel of Old World Germany.

The best time to visit Helen is during Oktoberfest, in late October during the height of Georgia's autumn leaf-viewing season. The town adds street singers, musicians and folks in period costume who stroll the lanes as characters from the old country. Hotel reservations, especially for September-November dates, must be made well in advance. Several state parks with lodges or cabins are within 60 mi/100 km. One is Unicoi State Park, which offers accommodations in its 100-room lodge and rental log cabins, enfolded in 1,080 acres/440 hectares of forest. The lodge restaurant serves three meals a day. State Road 356, Helen. Phone 706-878-2201 or toll-free 800-864-7275. http://www.gastateparks.org.

For more information, contact the Greater Helen Chamber of Commerce, 43 Helen St., Helen, GA 30545. Phone 706-878-3677. Or contact the Helen Welcome Center and Convention and Visitors Bureau, 726 Brucken Strasse, Helen, GA 30545. Phone toll-free 800-858-8027. http://www.helenga.org. Helen is 65 mi/105 km northeast of Atlanta.

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