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.