10 Ideas for Entertainment and Dining During Vasa Race Weekend

In town for the Vasa Races February 11–12? Check our ideas for pre- and post-race chill time in Traverse City.

Check out what’s new at this year’s races here.


Winter Microbrew and Music Festival
February 11, 4–10 p.m., $45
Relish in your race glory at one of the north’s iconic winter events. Sample craft beers by dozens of brewers; dance with your sugar into the night. Lineup: Kyle Hollingworth Band and The Nth Power will headline and be supported by The Mainstays, Lucas Paul Band, The Change featuring Grammy winner Peter “Madcat” Ruth on harmonica, Roosevelt Diggs, Charlie Millard Band, Brotha James, Jack Pine, Deep Blue Water Samba, and more. The Silent Disco tent will be rockin’ with several DJs, including Traverse City’s own DJ DomiNate.

Taste the Passion
February 11, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; February 12, noon–5 p.m., $35
Visit more than 20 Leelanau wineries for food and wine pairings. The gorgeous drive through a snowy, rolling landscape is an ideal way to settle into post-Vasa relaxation, all made romantic for Valentine’s weekend.

“Good on Paper” Improv Show!
February 11, 9–10:30 p.m., $8
Gather the racing homies for some shared laughs at this comedy improv show. Seven seasons proves the comedy cred. Trust us: you’ll like it.

Wander Grand Traverse Commons
Explore one of the nation’s most remarkable and creative renovation projects: An abandoned, sorely dilapidated and massive(!) mental hospital built in the 1800s that was transformed into a mixed-use development of condos, restaurants, boutiques and professional spaces.

Shop Downtown Traverse City
Kind of obvious, but don’t not do it. Between the inventive boutiques, national quality restaurants, microbreweries and the view of the bay to the north, you will experience one of America’s finest small downtowns.

Hike Empire Bluff
So … it’s a little out of town, like 27 miles west, but this 1.5-mile round-trip hike along a forest trail to a 40-story-high bluff over Lake Michigan is just not to be missed. In the village of Empire, within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore; park headquarters in Empire as well.

Start With a Good Breakfast

  • Aerie at Grand Traverse Resort
    Check out that landscape you skied from 16 stories high while enjoying one of the best brunches around.
  • Ham Bonz
    1108 E. Eighth St.
    It’s called Ham Bonz for a reason. Expect hearty pork offerings. Expect to leave full.
  • Omelette Shop
    1209 E. Front St. & 124 Cass St.
    At both restaurants find quality omelettes, skillets and baked goods sure to refuel your race-depleted self.
  • Patisserie Amie
    237 Lake Ave. # 200
    A classic French menu served up in the soft light and colors of a Parisian bistro. Perfect place to linger over your crêpe saumon and espresso.

Break for a Tasty Lunch

  • Harvest
    113 E. State St.
    Inventive, quality offerings down the entire menu, exploring fusions of Asian, Latin and global flavors. Does not disappoint.
  • Amical
    229 E. Front St.
    Scrubbed brick walls and a view of the bay to the north set a perfect stage for the French-inspired offerings of Amical.
  • Blue Tractor
    423 S. Union St.
    Casual setting and a hearty, quality meat-centric menu designed to fuel those who burn lots of calories, like people who race the Vasa, for example.

Treat Yourselves to Dinner

  • Georgina’s
    236 E. Front St.
    Chef Tony draws upon his multi-cultural heritage to explore Asian and Latin foods with equal passion and creativity.
  • 7 Monks Taproom
    128 S. Union St.
    Find elevated bar food (like the best sweet potato fries we’ve tasted anywhere) and great burgers along with a fine charcuterie platter and dozens of craft brews.
  • Alliance
    144 Hall St.
    TC’s hot new eatery is already scoring national press, but more importantly, the food here will take you to your flavor happy place. Special and hiply romantic for those wanting to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Vasa Race weekend.

Microbreweries … But of Course
Small town, big microbrewery selection. What’s not to like.

  • Brewery Ferment, 511 S. Union St.
  • Brewery Terra Firma, 2959 Hartman Rd.
  • Earthen Ales, 1371 Gray Dr. #200
  • Filling Station, 642 Railroad Pl.
  • Jolly Pumpkin, 13512 Peninsula Dr.
  • Mackinaw Brewing Co., 161 E. Front St.
  • North Peak Brewing Co.., 400 W. Front St.
  • Rare Bird, 229 Lake Ave.
  • Workshop Brewing Co., 221 Garland St.

More Northern Michigan Vacation Ideas:

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