Two years ago I had the opportunity to visit Portland, Maine. As someone that hails from the “other” Portland, you better believe I jumped on the opportunity to compare Portland, Oregon vs. Portland, Maine.
Although the two Portlands are found on opposite coasts (3,000 miles apart), they often find themselves in the crosshairs of comparison due to similar reputations.
Both cities are known for easy-going locals (average age is 36.7, respectively), great breweries, strong coffee, liberal-leaning politics, outdoor enthusiasts, eco-friendliness and gray skies.
But are the two Portlands as similar as folks think?
Read on to learn more about Portland, Oregon vs. Portland, Maine, based on firsthand experience.
Portland, Oregon vs. Portland, Maine
To truly understand and appreciate the similarities and differences between the two cities, you need to understand their respective sizes.
Portland, Oregon’s current population clocks in at 660,000, which is 10x higher than Portland, Maine’s population of 66,000.
Small cities naturally lend themselves to a slower pace, whereas bigger cities are known for never-ending to-do lists.
The drastic size difference makes comparing the two Portlands challenging because the pros and cons of medium-sized cities are different from those of small cities.
For instance, homelessness is a real challenge in Portland, Oregon; yet hardly worth a mention in Portland, Maine.
But on the other side of the coin, the job opportunities in Portland, Oregon far surpass those in Portland, Maine. Keep this in mind as you read through the list.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to beat the old-world charm of east coast (and this is coming from a lifelong west coaster!).
Cobble-stone streets, need I say more? Listen, you have to give credit where credit is due!
Portland, Maine is 200 years older than Portland, Oregon and therefore naturally more historic.
It exudes an irresistible charm that Portland, Oregon simply cannot compete with.
But don’t get me wrong, Portland, Oregon has some unbelievably quaint neighborhoods to wander through. There’s just no replacement for New England’s cozy charm and red-brick buildings. The city is a gem.
Seasons: Portland, Maine has all four seasons covered — stunning fall color, snowy winters, blissful summers and colorful springs.
On the other hand, Portland, Oregon typically boasts two seasons, picture-perfect summer and “gray and rainy.”
Rainfall: People often make the incorrect assumption that Portland, Oregon gets more rain than Portland, Maine but that is not so!
Portland, Oregon averages 44″ of rain annually whereas Portland, Maine averages 47″ of rain.
But fret not Oregonians! Oregon’s rain creates the perfect conditions to curl up with a cozy book from the world’s largest bookstore – Powell’s books.
See, there’s pros and cons to everything. 😉
Sunshine: Now, in terms of sunny days, Portland, Maine takes the cake with an average 203 days of sunshine per year compared to Portland, Oregon’s 144 days (ouch!).
The Food Scene
It’s no secret that Portland, Oregon is known for its expansive food scene.
Seriously, it’s one of the most common things out-of-town visitors bring up time and time again — have a meal at Ava Genes and you’ll instantly understand the hype.
But it turns out that Portland, Maine’s food scene is nothing to scoff at either.
Especially in the seafood category — Maine’s fresh caught lobster is world renowned for good reason.
The lobster rolls at Eventide Oyster Co. are known to induce dreams for years to come (I can attest to this, I still can’t get this meal out of my mind 2+ years later).
The Brew Scene
I guarantee you won’t leave thirsty (or hungry) in either Portland.
Portland, Maine has the most breweries per capita of any US city. But Portland, Oregon sells more craft beer than any city in the United States — accounting for 40% of beer sales!
What’s more, Portland, Oregon has 58 breweries within city limits, compared to Portland, Maine’s 30 (both highly impressive numbers).
Breweries to try in Portland, Maine: Allagash (especially the seasonal pumpkin brew) and Austin Street Breweries.
Breweries to try in Portland, Oregon: Deschutes Brewery, Ecliptic Brewery and Great Notion.
The Coffee Scene
Both Portlands can rightfully lay claim to robust coffee cultures. How else would locals combat the dark, cold rainy days?
During my visit to Portland, Maine, I was blown away by the coffee scene.
The brews were exceptional and the decor made me feel like I was stepping foot into my neighborhood cafe — the baristas even dressed the same!
Needless to say, there’s no shortage of great options in either city.
Coffee to try in Portland, Maine: Tandem Coffee, Bard Coffee
Coffee to try in Portland, Oregon: Good Coffee, Spella Cafe, Stumptown Roasters
Proximity to Nature
Distance to nature and green spaces is a big draw for both Portlands, and thankfully both cities offer excellent access to the great outdoors.
Portland, Oregon neighbors the stunning Columbia Gorge, Oregon Coast, Mt. Hood and Bend (to name a few). But keep in mind that these places are beloved by both locals and visitors alike — crowds are all but guaranteed.
However, it’s very easy to see why — check out the epic Seven Wonders of Oregon.
When it comes to nature, Oregon’s diversity is impossible to beat.
Portland, Maine is a coastal town through and through. If you love the sea (and being able to swim in it), the beaches in Maine will not disappoint.
And since Portland, Maine isn’t as crowded as the other Portland, you’re more apt to find solitude in wilderness (isn’t that what wilderness is for?).
What’s in a name?
Is seems the two Portlands were destined for comparison from the start. The decision to call Oregon’s city Portland was determined by a coin toss.
The founders of Portland, Oregon were two settlers from New England. One from Boston, Massachusetts and the other from Portland, Maine.
Both settlers wanted to name the city after their respective home towns and decided to settle for a coin toss – the rest, as they say, is history.
P.S. You can see the 1835 penny used to decide Portland’s name at Oregon’s Historical Society — you won’t want to miss it.
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Until next time!
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