A tlanta is typically know for two things: civil war and civil rights.
However — with the so-called “dog days of summer” still upon us here in the northern hemisphere — if you happen to find yourself in the Atlanta area and you feel like having some inexpensive yet relaxing and refreshing fun for half of a day, consider floating in a tube down the Chattahoochee River in the village of Helen north of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
There are two companies from which to choose in Helen: the Helen Tubing and Waterpark with the hot pink tubes at $3.00 per person; and the Cool River Tubing Company with the blue, yellow and green tubes at $5.00 per person. They are located within minutes of each other; and both companies basically share the same stretch of river. If you purchase certain packages — such as the zip line or the water park — you can tube down the ’Hooch all day and as many times as you like for no extra charge.
You will get wet; so consider wearing a bathing suit. Wet shoes are optional for traction and protection purposes for your feet in case you need to get out of the tube but do not want to slip on the rocks which form some of the small rapids along the way but on which your tube can get stuck. You may also want to wear sunscreen, as you will be out in the sun at times when there are no trees to shade you. Life jackets are also available.
Once you pay for your tube — you might want to purchase an optional “push stick” for $5.00 in case you get stuck; and a tether if you are with someone else but do not want to get separated along the way — you take your tube to the equivalent of a school bus on which you ride for several minutes until you arrive at the entrance area to the river where you can just head on in if there is no line. Then let the current do most of the work as it carries you slowly down the Chattahoochee River for the next two to three hours or so…
…and if that is too long, a shorter tubing trip option of approximately one hour is available. You can even take your dog tubing with you and have Fido sit in his or her own tube.
Be aware that on weekends or when school is out, the river can get quite crowded with tubes filled with people, as it is an ideal activity to do with the entire family — and then a relaxing tubing trip can suddenly be like a bumper car ride. If you can, try to go tubing on a day when school is in session.
Also, the water can be shallow in some places — at which time employing your “push stick” becomes ideal.
TIP: Unlike the tube, the “push stick” is yours to keep if you decide to return to “shoot the ”Hooch” again.
Lockers are available for a nominal charge of $2.00; and shower facilities and changing stalls are available at no extra charge. Free parking is available as well.
The pseudo-“Alpine” village of Helen is located approximately 87 miles — or 90 minutes — north of Atlanta. Don’t get me wrong — there is plenty to do in Helen; and the surrounding areas are scenic. I just find aspects of the village itself as little more than a tourist trap…
…but if you would rather go to a real Alpine village, consider Vaduz or other towns or villages in Liechtenstein; although I must warn you that Liechtenstein is a little farther away from Atlanta than Helen — and I am not certain that anyone goes tubing along the Rhine River there…