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Passion for Portland triumphs

By Marnie Hunter, CNN
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
Seattle and Portland finished neck and neck in our unscientific poll, but Portland lovers were the clear victors when it came to enthusiasm. Seattle and Portland finished neck and neck in our unscientific poll, but Portland lovers were the clear victors when it came to enthusiasm.
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Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Voting split in unscientific poll pitting Portland against Seattle
  • Portland fans' enthusiasm pushes the city ahead of Seattle
  • Portland supporters share tips for great eateries, local events

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of "city smackdowns" pitting rival cities against each other and letting you decide which one's best. Next week Detroit and Philadelphia will duke it out in a battle of the underdogs.

(CNN) -- Seattle is bigger, but Portland's scrappy supporters pushed the Oregon city to a win in the latest CNN.com city smackdown.

The voting in our unscientific poll was neck and neck. Portland edged out Seattle with 52% of the vote, but despite that narrow margin, Portland fans came out with much greater force and enthusiasm to defend the City of Roses.

iReporter Clinton Wood, who lives outside Portland in Tualatin, Oregon, acknowledges that Seattle is prettier than Portland. "Well let's face it, Seattle is perhaps in the most beautiful location in the continental United States. But does physical beauty make it a better city?"

Absolutely not, Wood claims in his defense of Portland, and goes on to list why "Portland thumps Seattle." Among his reasons: Portland has more park space, much better mass transit, a stronger bicycling culture and proximity to superior skiing, a renowned Pinot Noir wine region and great areas for water sports. Plus, the weather's better.

Seattle's beauty is not so easily dismissed by iReporter Jane Crummett. "I lived on Bainbridge Island, Washington, 'backyard of the Emerald City,' for many years. The ferry system never got boring, and every time I rode the ferry I was dazzled by the beauty of the Puget Sound," says Crummett, who lived in the Seattle area for 12 years before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Seattle resident Jessa Moon is a bit conflicted. "While I love Seattle, let's be clear, Portland is my city," writes Moon, who grew up in Portland.

PORTLAND

Moon names Last Thursday, a street fair held on the last Thursday of each month, as an example of what she loves about Portland.

Hippies and yuppies rub shoulders during the event held on Alberta Street in Northeast Portland, and "hipsters showcase their latest patched vintage tweed jacket and creative take on facial hair to crowds that take in food truck fare, art, hand-sewn sock puppets, glass blown jars and any other obscure item your heart might ever have desired," Moon writes.

The Portland Saturday Market, an outdoor artists market open every Saturday and Sunday, also receives a thumbs up from several CNN.com readers.

Local Vern Baker and his wife are brunch aficionados. "Brunch is one of our favorite food groups," he says.

For Portland-style brunch, Baker recommends Sanborn's, Genies Cafe, Zell's Cafe, The Country Cat and Cadillac Cafe. Commenter Laura Minnick says Cameo Cafe has the best breakfast in town "hands down."

For delicious coffee, Baker's votes go to Sisters Coffee Company and Stumptown Coffee Roasters. And Ken's Artisan Pizza is the spot for great wood-fired pie, he says. Beer is the other big beverage in Portland. Minnick likes McMenamins, a homegrown microbrewing enterprise that runs dozens of pubs in Oregon and Washington.

Portland's "hundred or so food carts that compete with any brick and mortar restaurant in the city" are another asset, a commenter writes.

Explore the city's gourmet offerings, and then work off your indulgences with an outdoor excursion.

"If you visit Portland, Mount Tabor is a must-see," says Moon. The city park situated on a volcanic cinder cone "offers panoramic views of Hawthorne, downtown and Mount Hood."

Soak up some of the city's culture, too. The enormous flagship Powell's bookstore is a magnet for locals and visitors alike. Commenter Sabrina Messenger, who lives 80 miles south of Portland, enjoys visiting the Oregon History Museum and attending operas at the Keller Auditorium.

SEATTLE

Seattle fans weren't as forthcoming about the Emerald City's strengths, but a few offered tips to give newcomers an overview of the city and its spectacular surroundings.

iReporter Crummett suggests a Duck tour for Seattle visitors. "It is an easy way to see the city and gives you an idea of places where you might want to go explore in depth."

If you're planning to take in panoramic views from the city's Space Needle, which served as the symbol of the 1962 World's Fair, she recommends splurging on a meal at the landmark's revolving restaurant, SkyCity. Regular admission to the observation deck is $19, but the elevator ride and observation deck are complimentary for diners.

Melanie Barrow visited Seattle for the first time during a military move from South Korea to Louisiana. She highly recommends a tour with Argosy Cruises. "We took the salmon bake sunset cruise to Tillicum, and the dinner was unreal!"

"The city is full of surprises and great shopping," says Crummett, and she recommends excursions to neighboring Bainbridge Island and Bremerton.

Commenter Steven Q suggests a visit to Seattle's Green Lake Park, the famous Pike Place Market, which has been selling fresh produce, seafood and more since 1907, and burgers from Dick's. Bill, another commenter, also suggests a walk around Green Lake, a visit to the EMP Museum ("if you are into music") and the Pacific Science Center.

Bill, who has lived in both cities but currently calls Seattle home, cast his vote firmly for Portland. "The 'plan' is to someday retire and get back to Portland."

Seattle supporters, where are the rest of you? Share tips for visitors to both cities in the comments section below.

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