Gastonia like any US suburb has lots to offer. Our family loves the *wide* array of all kinds of restaurants, from fine dining to casual, there's date night places. Some restaurants like Shrimp Boat, Old Carolina BBQ, and Fletchers are classics. Pretty much every decent chain restaurant can also be found in Gastonia. There are activities like bowling, mini-golf, tons of league and non-profit sports teams (baseball, basketball, soccer, football). There are a bunch of quality golf courses as well. Some of the best schools in the greater Charlotte NC area are in Gastonia. Obviously, you have to in *any* city know which neighborhoods are good. Generally downtown Gastonia is like downtown in any city, rougher. However, the outer ring of Gastonia has excellent amenities, homes, and schools. There are also a large array of elaborate parks (pirate parks, splash parks, dog parks, walking trails, kayaking parks). Then nearby cities also add a few more into that mix, though nearby cities do not offer as much as Gastonia as they are smaller. There's a bunch of good family entertainment options. The local 4th of July event is a big deal locally/regionally. Gastonia fire and police have new equipment and are very level headed. Important historical sites are nearby, including Kings/Crowders Mountains, etc. There's also a great deal of downtown renewal going on. It's a quick drive into Charlotte. Gastonia has several hardware stores. There's also plenty of barbers and salons/spas locally. As for drawbacks, Gastonia is very popular, so there can be a lot of traffic at popular shopping venues, like the Franklin Blvd area. And if you live in the heart of downtown, especially West downtown, it can be rough. But that is only about 20% of the whole city, the other 80% is really above average, or great.
I recently moved my home and business to Gastonia because of its low cost of living and because our kids had moved out so we could move to a smaller house. A month later someone tried to steal our electric meter and broke it. The city charged us to have it fixed and put in a faulty meter. Our power bill went from 120$ to 300$. We contacted them and they refused to listen and said it wasnt wrong...the next month the bill was higher....please realize this is a 700 square foot house with a brand new Central HVAC unit. Finally my landlord got involved and checked and proved that THE CITY put it in wrong and it was feeding power into the ground. We proved it without a doubt with an electrician and all the other houses on our street and by showing that what our power pull was ....is totally different than what they charged. They didnt care...said it was our responsibility and that if we dont pay they will shut our power off in the dead of winter. As soon as our lease is up WE will move both our ourselves and our business out of this city. Their biggest income comes from buying power from duke energy and selling it to residents at a higher price with a higher deposit than Duke would charge.
It is often said that the city of Gastonia, North Carolina lives within the shadows of its big sister, Charlotte, which is located just 20 miles away and is one of the largest cities in the southeastern United States.
I, however, have lived within the shadows of Gastonia my entire life, and know firsthand what this smaller and low-key city has to offer.
The city of Gastonia has plenty of places to shop, including major chain stores, such as Kohl's, Target, Old Navy and JC Penney, to name a few. If shopping makes you hungry, fare of all kinds await, including seafood, barbeque, Chinese, burgers and pizza.
To really experience Gastonia, though, pay a visit to Tony's Ice Cream Company, a family-owned restaurant, dating back to 1915. Just look for the iconic yellow building on Franklin Boulevard with its own ice cream plant next door. Talk about fresh--even the vanilla milkshakes defy vanilla description.
Gastonia's Schiele Museum of Natural History, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, is a popular attraction for all, and features outdoor recreations of an Indian Village and an 18th Century farm.
Gastonia is not without its traffic woes, especially on the weekends and during rush hour; however, navigating the streets is not a major problem and is worth it to get where you're going in Gastonia.