In the spirit of March Madness, Urbanize Atlanta’s first-annual Best OTP Downtown tournament kicked off last week with 16 places vying for the prestige of being called the metro’s greatest.
Now, for each Elite Eight contest, voting will be open for just 24 hours. Please, let’s keep the tourney fun and positive, as one suburban city center rises above the rest in very public fashion. The quest to crown a champion resumes now!
Estimated city population: 61,000
Distance from downtown Atlanta: 19 miles
Secret sauce: Proximity to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, a 3,000-acre gem for outdoor recreation
Round 1: Marietta booted Cobb County brethren Smyrna from the tourney without breaking sweat
The backdrop of countless movies, TV shows, and commercials, Marietta Square and its surrounding, lively streets have charm to spare—and typically almost no vacant commercial space, which is definitely a good thing for “Best OTP Downtown” purposes. Highlights include Cool Beans Coffee Roasters (one of our favorite coffeehouses in the metro), the rustic-cool confines of Glover Park Brewery, and Sweet Melissa Records, a can’t-miss for vinyl heads. Lest we forget Marietta Square Market (one of the first Krog Street-style food halls to pop up OTP), the paved Mountain-to-River Trail, and yes that big iconic fountain. Organic walkability lives and thrives here.
Estimated city population: 21,000
Distance from downtown Atlanta: 32 miles
Secret sauce: George Pierce Park, with more than 300 versatile acres, is practically next door, connected by a lovely trail network
Round 1: In a relatively close contest, Suwanee edged Serenbe to keep hope alive
So far, Gwinnett County cities are (almost) undefeated in Best OTP Downtown action, and Suwanee’s vibrant city center is as well-poised to continue that streak as anywhere. Located in northwestern Gwinnett, just south of Lake Lanier, the City of Suwanee has seen its population nearly triple since 2000. The award-winning Suwanee Town Center—which started opening in 2005, punctuated by a City Hall that’s been likened to the Hall of Justice from “Super Friends”—is a big reason why. It’s home to an interactive fountain, amphitheatre, rollicking beer festival, and a connection to the Suwanee Creek Trail, a 4.5-mile paved path full of scenic boardwalks through the woods.
(POLLING HAS CLOSED AFTER 24 HOURS. Thanks to all who participated, and congrats to Suwanee, which advances to the 2023 FINAL FOUR round.)