In the spirit of March Madness, Urbanize’s first-annual Best OTP Downtown tournament is kicking off with 16 contenders vying for the prestige of being called the metro’s greatest. (Note: Seeding from 1 to 16 was determined by reader nominations this month, so no pitchforks, please.)

For each Round 1 contest, voting will be open for just 24 hours. Please, let’s keep the tourney fun and positive, as one OTP city center rises above the rest in very public fashion. The eliminations begin now!




Estimated city population: 31,000

Distance from downtown Atlanta: 32 miles

Secret sauce: An impressive “haunted” history, with a variety of tours to match

Expanding with an array of new development around virtually every corner, downtown Lawrenceville has the gorgeous bones (and landmark courthouse) to prove it’s metro Atlanta’s oldest incorporated city. As the county seat of Gwinnett County, long a magnet for diverse population influxes, Lawrenceville’s square is dotted with an array of global eats, from Italian (Dominick’s) and Mexican (Strange Taco Bar, La Cazuela), and Cuban (D’Floridian) to modern American (McCray’s and gastropub Local Republic, which counts a beautiful buildout overlooking that courthouse). Lest we forget two breweries (Slow Pour and Ironshield) within a merry stumble of the square, and Aurora Theatre’s impressive new digs.



via Celtic Tavern Olde Town Conyers

Estimated city population: 18,000

Distance from downtown Atlanta: 25 miles

Secret sauce: A downtown PATH trail stretching nearly four miles

Conyers got serious about creating a vibrant downtown a few years ago, and those efforts are paying dividends. Olde Town Conyers, established way back in 1854, has seen since 2019 the addition of an open-container district, party lights dangling over its main drag, more free parking on the outskirts of the historic core, and a series of open-streets programs designed to get people out and about in an inimitable setting. Popular options include a free Main Street botanical garden (with koi fish, native flora, and a circa-1900 water tower), the lively Celtic Tavern, and the longstanding Sandwich Factory, which wouldn’t be out of place in Mayberry.  

(POLLING HAS CLOSED AFTER 24 HOURS. Thanks to all who participated, and congrats to Lawrenceville, which advances to the 2023 Elite Eight round.)