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View Poll Results: Which would you suggest for a trip?
Portland, ME 18 69.23%
Chattanooga, TN 8 30.77%
Voters: 26. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-02-2017, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Erie, PA
318 posts, read 268,892 times
Reputation: 391

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Hello! Let me start by saying my friend and I are planning a trip for next year and we've narrowed it down to Portland, Maine and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Both cities, seem to have great downtowns, plenty hotel choices, arts and culture, and attractions. I've always wanted to go to both.


We are from Erie, PA and are looking for a good trip to a smaller city. We both enjoy the following:


-Vibrant downtowns
-Arts and culture
-Local shopping and food
-Walkability
-Museums and outdoor attractions
-Walkability


I guess my question is, which of these two cities would you suggest more? I realize they are two different towns, in different parts of the country, but if you could give me some insight, that would be great! I've never been to New England and have really only been to larger cities in the South.
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Old 08-02-2017, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
5,826 posts, read 6,373,069 times
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Never been to Chattanooga and have always wanted to visit as well.

If you're going in the summertime I think Portland is the way to go, especially if you like lobster. The rest of the year I would pick Chattanooga.
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Old 08-02-2017, 12:53 PM
 
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I too have never been to Chattanooga, but Portland is great, and considering you've never been to New England, I think it would be a good regional experience. Portland's Old Port area is like this: Imagine if you took a few square blocks of the coolest neighborhood in one of the biggest cities in America and airlifted them to the Maine coast. After a couple of hours, you realize you're not actually in a big city, but it sure looks like one for a while. Largest concentration of hipster restaurants I've ever seen in one place, and I've lived in New York, Chicago and LA and spent a week in San Francisco last year.

Again, I don't know about Chattanooga, but a big bonus of Portland is the other charming towns that are nearby on the coast -- Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, etc. Even more shopping, food and walkability there, though you'll need to drive to get there.
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:32 PM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
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Chattanooga is nothing special. Go to Portland, ME.
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:38 PM
 
Location: Lebanon, OH
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If you go to Portland take a long drive up US 1, there is a lot worth seeing, have been up that way several times.

Yarmouth has the DeLorme headquarters and "Eartha" the worlds largest revolving globe.

The Portland Head light in Cape Elizabeth.

Worlds largest duck boot at L.L.Bean in Freeport.

Several nice small towns in mid-coast Maine.

Maybe drive all the way up to the Waldo-Hancock Bridge and go on the observation deck for a view of Bucksport.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:32 PM
 
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I would tend to go with Portland, especially for the fact that you have never been to New England really. It just seems like it would be more dynamic and different from Chattanooga (not that Chattanooga isn't unique also, just different from your norm).

Vibrant Downtowns: Both are probably comparable in terms of variety and offerings. However, I think Portland's offerings and downtown streets are a bit more tightly packed together, and thus, maybe a bit more vibrant feeling. Much of how vibrant either place is though will depend on time of visit.

Arts and Culture: Don't know enough to say for certain. Portland has an older start though, so it is logical then that it perhaps has a larger/more developed arts scene than Chattanooga does.

Local Shopping and Food: Both probably have both mom and pop and big box shops locally, so the difference is just in the type of gear you might find. Food, of course in Chattanooga you'll get more southern cooking/BBQ, whereas in Portland you'll probably get more organic/trendy options, but also the seafood culture of the NE.

Don't know enough about the museums in either to comment on those, though I will say that while both are historic, Portland is probably more so. The Old Port has the potential to feel more like Europe (perhaps like a mid sized city in Ireland or Scotland) whereas Chattanooga, while walkable and nice, won't have that aesthetic/feel.

Walkability: Portland has 30K people living in neighborhoods with WalkScores exceeding 70, and 11K (4 different neighborhoods) in 'hoods exceeding 90. It's most walkable parts have more of an urban feel to them than many cities more than 5 times it's size, thanks to the historic fabric that has been so well preserved. About as walkable as any city in it's size class in the country. Chattanooga has 8K people living in it's downtown, which only barely exceeds 70 (the only neighborhood in the city to do so). So while Chattanooga isn't terrible here, Portland, absolutely.

Commute: I researched the drive from Erie nonstop to both, and I believe it's about 35 minutes closer to Portland than Chattanooga. That being said, perhaps more traffic that way, and staying in Chattanooga may be slightly cheaper though I'm not sure.

Outdoor Activities: This could be the great equalizer for Chattanooga. It is right at the foot of reasonably significant mountains/trails, and has some of the better whitewater/paddling in the country right next to it's downtown as well. So if you're a mountain first person and you know it, Chattanooga may edge close here. However, Portland is on the rocky and picturesque and broad Maine Coast, which is perhaps a more distinct landscape for you than Tennessee would be. Sailing, coastal hiking, fishing are all great possibilities here. Also, it is worth noting that you're drive from Erie, you would have to drive a bit out of the way, but could hit part of the Adirondacks or Whites in either direction, and those may be more scenic/tall/steep mountains than those found around Chattanooga.

Either way you should have a good time, but my vote right now would be for Portland.
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Old 08-04-2017, 11:45 PM
 
Location: Erie, PA
318 posts, read 268,892 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavsfan137 View Post
I would tend to go with Portland, especially for the fact that you have never been to New England really. It just seems like it would be more dynamic and different from Chattanooga (not that Chattanooga isn't unique also, just different from your norm).

Vibrant Downtowns: Both are probably comparable in terms of variety and offerings. However, I think Portland's offerings and downtown streets are a bit more tightly packed together, and thus, maybe a bit more vibrant feeling. Much of how vibrant either place is though will depend on time of visit.

Arts and Culture: Don't know enough to say for certain. Portland has an older start though, so it is logical then that it perhaps has a larger/more developed arts scene than Chattanooga does.

Local Shopping and Food: Both probably have both mom and pop and big box shops locally, so the difference is just in the type of gear you might find. Food, of course in Chattanooga you'll get more southern cooking/BBQ, whereas in Portland you'll probably get more organic/trendy options, but also the seafood culture of the NE.

Don't know enough about the museums in either to comment on those, though I will say that while both are historic, Portland is probably more so. The Old Port has the potential to feel more like Europe (perhaps like a mid sized city in Ireland or Scotland) whereas Chattanooga, while walkable and nice, won't have that aesthetic/feel.

Walkability: Portland has 30K people living in neighborhoods with WalkScores exceeding 70, and 11K (4 different neighborhoods) in 'hoods exceeding 90. It's most walkable parts have more of an urban feel to them than many cities more than 5 times it's size, thanks to the historic fabric that has been so well preserved. About as walkable as any city in it's size class in the country. Chattanooga has 8K people living in it's downtown, which only barely exceeds 70 (the only neighborhood in the city to do so). So while Chattanooga isn't terrible here, Portland, absolutely.

Commute: I researched the drive from Erie nonstop to both, and I believe it's about 35 minutes closer to Portland than Chattanooga. That being said, perhaps more traffic that way, and staying in Chattanooga may be slightly cheaper though I'm not sure.

Outdoor Activities: This could be the great equalizer for Chattanooga. It is right at the foot of reasonably significant mountains/trails, and has some of the better whitewater/paddling in the country right next to it's downtown as well. So if you're a mountain first person and you know it, Chattanooga may edge close here. However, Portland is on the rocky and picturesque and broad Maine Coast, which is perhaps a more distinct landscape for you than Tennessee would be. Sailing, coastal hiking, fishing are all great possibilities here. Also, it is worth noting that you're drive from Erie, you would have to drive a bit out of the way, but could hit part of the Adirondacks or Whites in either direction, and those may be more scenic/tall/steep mountains than those found around Chattanooga.

Either way you should have a good time, but my vote right now would be for Portland.
Thank you for the detailed response!

We are definitely weighing our options and ultimately it will come down to which destination we will get more bang for our buck. We actually will be flying, so physical distance won't be an issue, and we are looking to go in April.
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Old 08-05-2017, 01:33 AM
 
Location: Land of Ill Noise
929 posts, read 1,701,304 times
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Interesting the OP is picking between those 2. I thought it'd be 2 places closer to each other, and not ones very distant away from each other like that.

Never been to Portland, but I'd love to go someday. Only to Chattanooga. And I will say it has a very nice aquarium, and the incline railroad is cool to go up and down once. The downtown there has nicely been revitalized, and I imagine(not 100% sure?) that it might be cheaper in Chattanooga.

If you do drive, I'd try to hit some places on the side, such as Suwanee, TN(the town where University of the South is in), Lynchburg, TN(for a tour of Jack Daniels Distillery), and try to throw in some other ones like Nashville, do a Chevy Corvette plant tour in Bowling Green, and stop at Mammoth Cave. Hitting any of the 'bourbon trail' distilleries in central Kentucky would be a nice thing to do, as well. Maker's Mark probably being my favorite one(though it is a little more out of the way), but any of the distilleries IMO(and experiences) have been interesting to visit. I.e. Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, etc.

If you go the I-75 route instead of I-71 to I-65 south to Chattanooga, and don't mind a little detour east of I-75 south of Lexington, Cumberland Gap(by the VA/KY/TN border) is cool to see. You also pass through other possible places you can stop at in southern KY along I-75, such as the original Sanders Cafe location in Corbin, KY(before they became KFC), and also Berea, KY(which is a local arts and crafts town). Lexington is interesting in its own way too, with University of Kentucky and also some local restaurants and bars. And of course, Cincinnati is always a nice city too.

Whatever city you choose, I hope you have a great trip. I'd really, really love to go to Maine someday!
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Old 08-06-2017, 12:39 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
172 posts, read 76,483 times
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I would recommend Portland; New England is a great region overall. If you do go to Portland, I would recommend using Amtrak to get there if possible for you. It is reachable from Erie via a transfer in Boston. You could also try the train one way and fly back or fly into Boston and take the train to Maine from there. That might actually allow you more options than flying all the way to Maine.
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