Help us decide.. Seattle or Portland?

Old Dec 28th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Help us decide.. Seattle or Portland?

My best friend and I are planning a 3 day trip for late March. We like to shop, eat out, run and hike and go to the spa. We are trying to decide between Portland and Seattle. We plan on using points and staying at the Hilton (both are downtown). We don't want to rent a car so time to and from the airport are something to consider as well as public transportation. We might also be interested in visiting some wineries.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 10:12 AM
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Wow..what a decision
First you should do a "search" on tis site on Portland (be sure you click on Oregon) and another on Seattle. this will help you define the areas.
I love both places but in your case (3 days) I would choose Portland--Light rail system right at the airport to downtown is SO convenient. The recently refurbished Pearl district is awesome...don't miss the Pearl bakery and Powell bookstore. (these only 2 blocks apart) Weather "could be" a little in Portland but rain is always an issue in Northwest..
IU am sure other will give you more info...
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 10:24 AM
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I live in SEattle, but suggest that Portland suits your wishes better. For shopping and restaurant dining, Portland has no sales tax. In Seattle it is almost up to 9%. The light rail system in Portland makes it very easy to get downtown from the airport. There is a very nice running path through a park along the Willamette River, and you can hike in Forest Park which is west of the downtown.

Wineries will be difficult in either place without a car.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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I might be biased by living here, but I think Portland makes the most sense. PDX is closer to downtown than SEA, and lightrail (MAX) runs right to the terminal. Lightrail and the streetcar will get you almost anywhere you'll want to go with minimal walking. Forest Park, great for hiking, is the largest urban park in the country.

And food? I might get flamed for this, but a Seattle wine shop owner told me earlier this year that the Portland food scene is much better than Seattle's. I might not go THAT far, but IMO it's at least as good.

Shopping is good in both cities, but just because of size, you'd probably have more options in Seattle. Not sure how accessible though.

Spa? I know we have a couple in downtown Portland. Don't know how good they are, though.

Regardless of which city you choose, you'd want a car for winery visits. The heart of Oregon's wine country is 45 minutes SW of Portland.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 10:36 AM
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In Portland, if you want a very limited winery experience, you could visit the McMenamins Edgefield complex in Troutdale (east of Portland). You can take the #77 bus out there but it would take a while from Portland (go to www.TriMet.org for details). The Edgefield itself is a cool place to visit - a former "poor house" from the Depression era that is now a complex of restaurants, pubs, a winery, a golf course, and old-style hotel rooms.

In fact, if the weather is nice, I would even rent a car for one day and drive it out to the Columbia River Gorge, which has breathtaking natural scenery, then stop in Troutdale at the Edgefield on the way home for dinner, wine tasting, and a tour of their vineyards (or plan it so you go earlier in the daytime and can see them). You can rent a car right downtown with Hertz, etc. and just return it the same day without parking at the Hilton. Probably you'd get a cheap deal and it's an easy drive.

See www.mcmenamins.com for more info on the Edgefield.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 10:42 AM
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Without a car - Portland, definitely.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 10:46 AM
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I love Seattle dearly, but Portland better suits what you seek for this trip.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 02:07 PM
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Another vote for Portland--considering your circumstances.

In addition, the Hilton is better in Portland. There are two buildings; we prefer the newer Executive Towers. However, I understand rooms in the original building are being redecorated.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 02:23 PM
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Thanks happytrails have you stayed at the Embassy Suites there? It actually looks a bit nicer than the Hilton. Location wise which do you think is better?
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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Portland's downtown is small. Both the Hilton and the Embassy Suites are in good locations. The Embassy is close to Saturday Market (I think it opens in March by the time you arrive, if you will be there on a weekend) plus to several popular bars/clubs that are close to Burnside, if that interests you. The Hilton is right on Broadway closer to the Schnitzer Concert Hall and to stuff on Broadway (a few restaurants) and a few blocks closer to the Portland Streetcar if you will want to take that; both are pretty close to a MAX stop from the airport. If you are interested in Saturday Market and/or the bars/clubs I'd probably give the nod to the Embassy, otherwise the Hilton (Executive tower not the old building, they are the same hotel but you should try to get room(s) in the new Executive tower as somone else said).

I hear the Embassy is really nice but alas have never been inside. My folks stated at the Hilton (Executive Tower room) and it was a nice, modern room, as that building is not even ten years old.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 03:19 PM
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My recommendation for the best trip, based on having spent consdirable time in both cities, would be to somehow rent a car and do Seattle. Portland is nice, but not the destination that Seattle can be.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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Except for getting to the wineries I think you could do everything in Seattle using public transportation.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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My vote is for Portland. I've been to Seattle many times and love it, but Portland is smaller, more intimate and better without a car. You can walk the entire city of Portland, the restaurants are numerous and they have a river area to walk or run. The Saturday market is awesome. As another poster said, the Pearl District has restaurants and shopping. There is a Whole Foods right downtown. There are many stores. There are walking tours and the trip from the airport is painless. The airport is smaller, so less time in lines. i love Seattle, but Portland fits your bill.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 06:40 PM
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Another vote for Portland. It has a walkable downtown and lots of things to do there. There is a free trolley loop downtown if you don't want to walk.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 06:49 PM
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Portland

www.portlandstreetcar.org
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 07:56 PM
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I don't think either would be better-read up on the stuff to do in each and see which appeals to you more. Not sure why everyone is touting Portland as being better without a car-it might be a better place to LIVE without a car, but you don't need a car to explore downtown Seattle and some of the more interesting neighborhoods (Capitol Hill, Fremont). It's an easy bus, cab or Greyliners ride to downtown Seattle from the airport. Lots of spas, shopping and great restaurants downtown. If you want to go for a run, check out the path along the waterfront at Myrtle Edwards Park. The point about no sales tax in Portland is a good one, though.

I think you'd need a car to do any real hiking (I'm assuming you don't just mean walks in city parks, nice as they may be in both cities) or winery touring.
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 08:51 PM
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christy1, some people simply do not like buses. And Portland has the MAX light rail and the Portland Streetcar, which visitors can figure out more easily than they can the bus system. I think it's quicker in general to get from PDX to downtown than from SEA to downtown in Seattle, also.

I think Portland is easier for a newcomer to navigate than Seattle for the simple reason that downtown Portland is so much smaller.

As for hiking, let's remember it's only a 3 day trip. In Portland, anyway, there are enough trails in the west hills (miles of them, easy to reach from downtown without a car) to kill more than one afternoon. The Edgefield as already mentioned would give a taste of wineries for a quick trip and is reachable by bus.

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Old Dec 29th, 2006, 07:43 AM
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Another vote for Portland.

I used to live near Seattle, and I've only visited Portland once, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I found Portland easier to navigate than Seattle. Portland's downtown, Pearl District and NW 23rd area are all easier to walk (in my opinion) than Fremont, Capital Hill, Ballard and downtown Seattle.

Both cities are great and have good restuarants, but I'd give Portland the edge in terms of public transportation, walkability, etc.
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Old Dec 29th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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While I first voted for Portland above... there is nothing difficult about getting from SeaTac airport to downtown or about navigating downtown Seattle by bus and on foot. They didn't say they hate busses so I don't see why that's a consideration. I think actual hiking or winery visiting will be difficult in either city without a rental car.

I *love* living in Seattle and think it is a fantastic city. I can't imagine how you wouldn't have a great 3-day stay here.
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Old Dec 29th, 2006, 02:47 PM
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This is not a "Seattle vs. Portland" question. They are two different cities. For the particular parameters here, I still think Portland is the better choice. It's just an easier, smaller, more compact city to navigate. While I have no problem riding buses personally, some people find them less fun or even intimidating. Which bus? Where does it go? With rail, if it says "Downtown" you just buy a ticket at the machine and get on.

On the other hand, I think you'd run out of things to do in Portland before you would in Seattle. If you were staying for, say, ten days but didn't want to rent a car, blah blah blah, I'd say Seattle would have an edge, because you'd have more to do, probably better museums, more "world class" stuff to do that Portland simply can't offer.
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