Weekend Pass

Summer City Getaways: Portland vs. Vancouver

North or south? Vancouver or Portland? If your idea of summer vacation is scorching sidewalks and urban energy, choose your own adventure.

By Allison Williams July 6, 2015 Published in the July 2015 issue of Seattle Met

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Image: Shutterstock

The Case for Vancouver 

Winning isn’t very Canadian. At least that’s how we often paint our polite neighbors to the north—outside the hockey rink, that is. But Canada gets competitive this summer when the FIFA Women’s World Cup gold-medal match comes to Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium on July 5. (*Update: WE WON!) The boutique Opus Hotel is one of many offering soccer specials: a stadium-adjacent room in Yaletown stocked with noisemakers and painkillers.

Even if they don’t win at soccer, Canada can still win at blowing things up starting July 25, when Vancouver’s 25th annual Celebration of Light fireworks competition—also British Columbia’s biggest event—pits the Maple Leafs against China and Brazil in a three-night bout. Some venues around English Bay are ticketed, but it isn’t hard to score a sight line from Vanier or Sunset Beach Park.

In a summer of superlatives, nearby Whistler gets into the game with the country’s longest zipline, Sasquatch, flying more than a mile between mountains. Back in the city, the newly expanded Vancouver Aquarium celebrates a different species of victor in Sea Monsters Revealed, a salute to extant specimens like the predatory Humboldt squid and the sure-wish-it-was-real kraken. Mark your calendars, 2015 is the year that Vancouver finally swears off that Dudley Do-Right modesty.


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The Case for Portland 

I don’t want it to be the Disneyland of beer,” says restaurateur Kurt Huffman of his new Loyal Legion beer hall, opening this summer in Portland’s brick police athletic association building. As if there were something wrong with that. In some ways, the new bar is the happiest place on earth, what with its 99 taps of Oregon beer and a menu so fluid that patrons peruse it via a smart phone app. But don’t picture the German Pavilion at Epcot; this beer hall is utterly non-Bavarian, built from all-Oregon materials and serving Olympia Provisions sausages. It’s like doing a statewide brewery tour while never leaving a barstool.

But is there such a thing as too much Portland pride? In what could be the peak of Oregon’s craft golden age, Loyal Legion opens while the first-annual Portland Craft Beer Festival floods a Pearl District park July 3–5. Here the state border isn’t exclusive enough—all featured pours were brewed within city limits.

There’s further evidence that even in a town where shirtless on a fixie bike is basically business casual, Portland is taking itself seriously. Memberships and reservation privileges at Multnomah Whiskey Library, a second-floor trove of green Tiffany lamps and high-end spirits, start at $600. But in a nod to something like equality, the bar has opened an anteroom for the plebeians on the walk-in wait list, the street-level Green Room, offering aperitifs, wine, and a few cocktails. It seems inevitable that free-drinking Portland will give itself a hangover eventually, but as of this summer, the party’s in full swing.

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