A giant mural imploring residents to “Keep Portland Weird” is on display in the Pacific Northwest city, which prides itself on its eclectic (really, there were a lot of word choices for that one) collection of people and ideas. And now Portland, Ore., has a bit of a challenge, as Travel + Leisure recently released its list of America’s Strangest Cities and Portland only rolled in at fourth.
How could this happen? A city that builds an entire image strangeness not being the oddest? Well, give it up to New Orleans for taking the top spot. (You can’t argue that one too much, can you?) With Mardi Gras, the French Quarter and plenty of other strange places throughout this city, New Orleans was almost a given for number one.
But also edging out Portland was Santa Fe, N.M., and Austin, Texas. Santa Fe has recently enjoyed renown for its lively arts scene, boasting the most artists per capita of any city in the States. Where you have artists, you have strangeness.
(PHOTOS: Mardi Gras: New Orleans Style)
Austin, the home of the University of Texas, has turned into America’s quintessential college town, taking the hippie factor up quite a few levels, and that’s not even including its boisterous live music scene.
In fourth place, Portland’s oddness is well chronicled, from the plethora of bicycles and the hottest food truck scene in the nation to the, shall we say, unique clothing choices (if it was in during the 1970s—including mustaches—it is always in style in Portland). The organic, art-loving scene comes off as mainstream in the Rose City, and it’s even inspired its own TV show, Portlandia.
But it isn’t like the list stops after Portland. As you might expect, San Francisco rounds out the top-five, with its high-tech—and college-inspired—brand of strangeness well versed in American culture.
Everything from art, theater, antiques, cultural traditions and throwing dead fish (Seattle’s Pike Place Public Market) put Providence, R.I., Savannah, Ga., San Juan, P.R., and Seattle in slots six through nine. And in 10th? You just can’t get away from Portland. The East Coast version, Portland, Maine, rounds out the list.
Keep Portland weird. No matter which one you’re closest to.