Visitors say Portlanders are good drivers and brewers, but are not diverse, stylish or attractive

This is a few months old, now, but it’s still kind of fun to look at. In the 2012 America’s Favorite Cities listing from the publication Travel + Leisure, Maine’s largest city was rated by both visitors and residents alike.

On a lot of fronts, tourists and Portland residents agreed on their impressions of the Forest City, but for the sake of this blog post, I’m mostly just looking at what the outsiders’ perspective was.

Now, unless you’ve been living in a box, you know that Portland over the past few years has been listed by countless national publications as having among the country’s best this or America’s top that — in past blog posts I’ve linked to as many of the accolades as I could find, but I don’t feel like doing that today. It’s Friday afternoon and it’s hot out, so suffice it to say that Portland has been lauded for its cuisine, beer, eligible women, gay friendliness, healthy living, environmental stewardship, quality of life for raising families, job market, brunch, outdoor recreational activities, farmer’s markets, space for empty nesters to launch second careers, partridges in pear trees, blah blah blah.

I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting, but I’ve got a lot of those listings in past blog posts, so feel free to use the handy dandy search function in upper righthand corner of this web page and read about Portland in all of its wonder.

Today I just want to check out what visitors who voted with Travel + Leisure think about Portland and the people who live here, and it’s kind of an interesting perspective.

The tourists say Portlanders are pretty middle-of-the-pack when rating local residents on things like intelligence, friendliness and “charming local accent.” Out of 35 cities ranked nationally, Portland came in 14th or 13th in the above categories.

The Forest City came in a near chart-topping fourth when the outsiders ranked us on our driving ability — just two days ago, a pickup truck driver stopped in the oncoming lane on Commercial Street to allow me to make a question-mark turn across traffic and snag what was, as far as I could tell, the last available parking spot in the universe. (That anecdote makes the pickup truck driver a good example of courteous driving. My actions don’t help the rating much…)

Portland is also a great spot for ice cream (6th), microbrew beer (3rd) and coffee (8th), and is clean (8th), peaceful (8th) and perhaps above all, safe (1st).

That’s what the visitors ranked the city, again, out of 35 total U.S. cities.

They weren’t terribly complementary on some other things, though.

Portland’s a bad spot for the singles scene (28th) and people-watching (26th), tourists said, and that’s probably because they found the people they were watching — or considering dating — to be unattractive and badly dressed. The visitors rated Portlanders 27th in the attractiveness category and 31st in terms of style.

(This bucks not only my impression of the city’s people, but that of Men’s Health magazine, which within the last year or two called Portland second to only Washington, D.C., in terms of “Where the babes are.”)

Other things: Portland’s second to last in the ratings (34th) in terms of diversity and 30th in the ethnic food category (even though it’s by far the most ethnically diverse city in Maine, with something like 45 different languages spoken in the schools, it’s still a predominantly white city in the larger scheme of things).

Interestingly, the tourists said Portland doesn’t have enough hotels (33rd) or food trucks (29th). With something like 500 hotel rooms due to come on-line within the next year or two and the food truck revolution pulling into the city just this spring, I’d be willing to bet at least those figures change by the time the 2014 or 2015 votes are in.

As for the attractiveness? Well, I’ve started working out. But stylish… Anybody know where I can get hold of Stacy London or Clinton Kelly?

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.