Top Sporting Experiences in the US: Road-Trip Addition

A Sounders game at Seattle’s Lumen Field.

The Pacific Northwest is one of the most-traveled regions of the US—and for good reason. There are unique natural wonders that can’t be found anywhere else in the world and a community of locals who work hard to live in tandem with the environment.

There are fall festivals and farmer’s markets. There are campgrounds and national parks. There’s big tech and AI innovation in cities. There are even a surprising number of sports teams. True to Pacific Northwest nature, the teams and sports in major hubs like Portland and Seattle aren’t quite like the rest of the US’s sports offerings.

For those who haven’t been to a major league game in the last few years, there may be a few noticeable differences. Women’s leagues like the WNBA and the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) are gaining steam with fans, with many teams moving into renovated stadiums and arenas.

Additionally, sportsbooks have gone live in states from Indiana to Washington, which means wagers from groups like Unibet betting are available for most sports.But in the way of attendance, travelers usually only have access to football, baseball, basketball, or hockey when passing through a city.

Those headed to the Pacific Northwest on a road trip will have a few more experiences at their fingertips. With most itineraries beginning in the south, we’ll start first with Portland’s best sporting opportunities, then move on to Seattle.

Portland, Oregon

Thorns / NWSL

The Thorns are one of the NWSL’s founding teams—and they’re also one of the league’s strongest. Though they’ve had a rough 2020-21 season, local fans are all about their Thorns. The squad plays at Providence Park, which is also the home of the Timbers (see below).

Timbers / MLS

The Timbers got their start the year before the Thorns, and also helped to (re)found the US MLS league. However, the team has been active in some form in Portland since 1975 and has kept its name throughout the decades.

Key tip for catching a game at Providence Park: bundle it with other nearby hotspots, like the Roger Williams Zoo and the Water Place Park walking area.

Trail Blazers / NBA

Similar to soccer fans, basketball fans won’t feel out of place in the Pacific Northwest. Though the Trail Blazers aren’t leading the league, they’ve got a few star players worth catching in Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony.

NWSL game in Seattle.

Seattle, Washington

Seahawks / NFL

Given the ample coverage of the NFL (and the Seahawks), we’ll keep this section brief. Sports aside, travelers should keep in mind that Seattle’s Lumen Field is consistently rated as one of the top stadium experiences in the US—and one of the loudest.

Mariners / MLB

Similar to the Seahawk’s section, we’ll keep this succinct. The most important thing to know about the Mariners is that they haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2001. Looking for a relaxing afternoon? A Mariners game is perfect.

Sounders FC / MLS

Similar to Portland, Seattle is all about its soccer teams. Sounders FC is one of the best teams in the league and has multiple MLS Cups at home. In fact, they’re such a big deal that they’ve set records for MLS attendance multiple years running.

The best part? They also play at Lumen Field.

Seattle Storm /WNBA

Though Portland lost its WNBA team a decade back, the Seattle Storm has represented the Northwest in the WNBA since 2000. If you’re unsure about women’s basketball, think no more. Not only do top names like Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart play for the Storm, but the team has also worked hard to build a fans-first stadium experience.

Those who catch a live game will see top-tier basketball—but also be invited for a conga line during timeouts and plenty of antics from Doppler, the team’s mascot.

Honorable Mentions: Seattle Dragons (XFL) and Seawolves (MLR)

Those looking to try something new (other than soccer and women’s basketball) can experience XFL and Major League Rugby games in Seattle. The XFL is a high-octane spin on the NFL, which is expected to restart in the coming year with the Dragons representing Seattle. The Seawolves are a rugby team that competes in the national league, which is still growing in popularity and size.

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