We've talked before about the phenomenon of running into people from Montana when you're on vacation. But this applies to living in other places, too.

I lived in Portland Maine for four years (and ran into more than a few people who had lived or were from Montana) and every time someone asked me what Portland was like when I was back home, I'd compare it to Missoula Montana. I used this analogy:

"Trade the mountains for ocean and the cowboys for sailors and it's basically the same place."

It was like a tagline--I used that description almost every time I talked about Portland, especially to other Montanans. But I think the comparisons go a little further, and I'm tempted to say that Portland and Missoula are so similar they could be twins, or maybe doppelgangers. Here's what they have in common.

audience at outoor contest at night
Photo by Yvette de Wit on Unsplash

The Music Scene

With Portland being so close to Boston and New York it's known for getting incredible music acts, but Missoula has shown that it too is a worthy stop for many musicians. The music venues in both cities are fantastic with the State Theater in Portland feeling a lot like The Wilma in Missoula.

three people from behind in front of tent
Photo by Aranxa Esteve on Unsplash

The Festivals

Missoula has festivals for nearly every month of the year dedicated to culture, music, and the time-honored tradition: beer drinking. Maggotfest, the International Choral Festival, and the Garden City Brewfest are a few favorites. But Portland holds its own for festivals too. The Water Lantern Festival draws people to Deering Oaks Pond for a gorgeous night watching the lanterns float. They also have a kite festival, a winter festival in Portland's Old Port, and Portland Wine Week. Both Missoula and Portland have fantastic Greek festivals, too.

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Sidebar: It wasn't in Portland, but Maine also had a testicle festival. Then again, the testicle festival wasn't in Missoula either.

University of Montana Griz Flag, University of Southern Maine Skywalk
Townsquare Media/Google

The University Vibe

Sure, a lot of college towns feel the same, but the arts-college vibe of Missoula is a lot like the artsy-college vibe of Portland. But this is also one place where they differ: their love for Champ the Husky has got nothing on the power of Missoula's devotion to #GrizNation.

You could also say the appreciation for adult beverages is shared between the two cities, which might support that cowboy/sailor similarity.

silver Subaru with red heart

The Subarus

Montanans love to poke fun at the bounty of Subarus in Montana. No joke, I was at an intersection the other day and I was surrounded by four Subarus--two in front of me and one in each lane to the right and left. But Portlanders love their Subarus too! They might have arrived in Portland from New Hampshire, or Vermont, but you'll see them everywhere.

biker, kayaker, hiker

The Outdoors Vibe

With all those Subarus in Missoula and Portland, you know it's because Missoulians and Porltanders love the outdoors. Remember how the comparison between Missoula and Portland started with trading the mountains for the ocean (or vice versa)? It's not really a trade. Both cities kayak (thanks for the rivers in and around Missoula) and both cities hike (thanks to the proximity of Bradbury Mountain State Park). Maine might have more water and Montana might have more mountains, but both can be appreciated in both places.

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