Portland vs. Seattle: Clash of the Cascades

A view of Portland from the Broadway bridge

We’re only very biased that Portland is best. | Photo via @irenemayphotography

Table of Contents

For Portlanders and Seattleites, it’s easy to look out at the majestic mountain peaks + never-ending forests, shake hands, and ask “how did we get so lucky?” But, that camaraderie can only go so far.

Things can get pretty contentious between the two cities — or at least very passive aggressive. When the Sounders and Timbers aren’t battling on the pitch for the Cascadia Cup, baristas are pushing the caffeine frontier to vie for the coffee town crown.

So with the help of our frenemies over at SEAtoday, we decided to put this rivalry to the test and go head to head in several categories.

In the upper left corner we have the tenacious Emerald City, facing off against the plucky City of Roses. Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuumble — oh no, sorry, didn’t mean to remind you about the Big One.

A green forest with towering pine trees

A short drive from Portland, Dog Mountain is doggone gorge-ous. | Photo via PDXtoday

🥾 Hiking

Netflix and chill? In the PNW, it’s more like trail mix and hill. It’s no secret that Seattle + Portland are jumping-off points for world-class hikes — the kind that adventure influencers travel thousands of miles to post about on Instagram. But if we’re splitting hairs, Portland wins this category due to sheer numbers, with 198 trails compared to Seattle’s 82 on AllTrails. And not to rub it in, but we also have Forest Park — one of the largest urban forests in the country — where you can hike over 80 miles of trails without ever leaving the city limits. It’s easy to water-fall in love with Portland.

(Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday)

A plate of ornate pieces of sushi

No shore losers here — Seattle’s sushi scene is delectable. | Photo via Shiro’s

🍔 Food

Look, we all know both cities have sensational restaurant scenes, with a bounty of PNW farms and produce in our backyards (literally). But it’s hard to beat Seattle’s sheer breadth of options, whether it’s the numerous sushi gems, fast food classics, special occasion icons, or pho for days. Oh, and DYK modern teriyaki was invented here? Maybe it’s no wonder that on the Portland edition of “Top Chef,” Seattle chef Shota Nakajima made the finals over all PDX contenders. Just sayin’.

(Gabe Guarente, SEAtoday)

A hand holds a glass of beer in front of a stained glass window

The ale at Steeplejack Brewing Co. is heavenly. | Photo via PDXtoday

🍻 Craft beer

In Portland, or should I say “Beervana,” IPA flows through our veins. Sure, Seattle has some players, but they’re pint-sized compared to the sheer number of beer options down south. As soon as Oregon legalized brew pubs in 1984, pioneers like BridgePort Brewing (pour one out) and Widmer Brothers Brewing began making waves in the industry, continuing the legacy of those who came before. You can enjoy a glass at a church, in a train car, or on a bike or boat — they’re even talking about us across the pond. Cheers, guvnah!

(Ben McBee, PDXtoday)

A wide angle view of a concert in an old concert hall

Shows at Neptune Theatre have been wowing Seattle audiences for 100 years. | Photo via Christopher Nelson

🎸 Music

Do we even need to write this out? Seattle takes the cake regardless of what music metric you want to use. Not only is the Capital of Grunge responsible for head-bangers like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains, but it’s home to a whole host of other bands that we’re sure grace your playlists with frequency. And if that wasn’t enough for you, the city provides endless opportunities to support live (and tons of local) performances at the music venues scattered around town — between the world-famous Crocodile, the century-old Moore, Neptune, and Paramount theatres, the tech-savy Climate Pledge Arena, and the dozens of homegrown stages.

(Alina Hunter-Grah, SEAtoday)

A woman poses on a table with her innards out and extraterrestrials on either side

Close encounters of the best kind. | Photo via @travelguirre


Vendors chucking salmon through the air and a wall with gum stuck to it … that’s all you got, Seattle?

Portland’s been weird since the beginning; seriously, who decides a city’s name with a coin toss? Any “Keep Portland Weird” pilgrimage must stop by the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, the incomparably miniscule Mill Ends Park (and its unofficial twin), and the Witch’s Castle.

No one’s got more skin in the World Naked Bike Ride game than us, and speaking of wheeled phenomena, ever heard of The Unipiper? Oh, and if you have a haunted doll to get rid of, Unsettling Toy Removal and Rehoming has you covered. You truly are one-of-a-kind, Stumptown.

(Ben McBee, PDXtoday)

Champion — Portland, OR

Was this a fair fight, or did someone get the poky end of the pinecone? Let us know your favorite things about either city.

More from PDXtoday