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!



Explore Georgia

Estimated city population: 93,000

Distance from downtown Atlanta: 21 miles

Secret sauce: Impressive hiking a stone’s throw from downtown at the 3.4-mile Vickery Creek Trail, which feels more like North Georgia than the northern ’burbs

As much as any OTP place, Roswell has risen to prominence in recent years as a bona fide destination for intowners seeking a refreshing, change-of-pace daytrip without sacrificing big-city sophistication. Little Alley Steak, Gate City Brewing Company, Salt Factory Pub, Variant Brewing—they’ve all contributed to buzz for a walkable core that’s not so much centered around a square as spread across many leafy blocks. Two major new developments in the works promise to add more than a hundred new housing options and a long-needed boutique hotel without squashing historical charms. As one reader put it during the tournament’s nominations phase: “I think hands down Roswell has done the best preservation of a historic downtown.”




Estimated city population: 14,000

Distance from downtown Atlanta: 35 miles

Secret sauce: This “Hollywood of the South” counts remarkable TV and film history, tracing from “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “In the Heat of the Night” to “Remember the Titans,” “My Cousin Vinny,” “The Walking Dead,” and famously “The Vampire Diaries”

About a half-hour southeast of Atlanta, just off Interstate 20, charming downtown Covington has been synonymous with big-budget TV and film projects for generations—as its tourism industry for fans of “The Vampires Dairies” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” among many other productions, proves. Set around historic Covington Square, the seat of Newton County counts one boutique after the next, a trolley system, and an array of eats ranging from classics (The Town House Café, a staple since 1964, and City Pharmacy, a mainstay for a century) to newer arrivals directly inspired by the actors and directors who’ve walked these streets (Mystic Grill). Another plus: less traffic than many northern OTP cousins. 

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