Looking for Things to Do in Gastonia NC?
Gastonia, NC, is a mid-sized town that is considered a satellite, or a sister city, to Charlotte and is the 13th largest city in North Carolina. Gastonia is part of the outer Charlotte metropolitan area and is known for being an excellent place to visit and live. Gastonia is the perfect place for a weekend getaway or a fun day trip from Charlotte.
Gastonia was incorporated in 1877 as a small railroad town, but the population boomed after textile mills began popping up around the area. Around this time, in 1911, Gastonia was voted as the county seat for Gaston County. Throughout the 20th century, the textile mills came and went, but the people stuck around to keep Gastonia going as an ever-changing, exciting town.
Today, Gastonia’s fantastic museums, fabulous city parks, spectacular landscapes, and a re-energized downtown make Gastonia a must-visit spot in North Carolina.
Short on Time? Here is our Top Pick for a Local Hotel
The Esquire Hotel | Downtown Gastonia
The Esquire Hotel is Gastonia’s most talked about hotel and is perfect for any trip. The restored historic hotel offers high-quality meals and drinks at its restaurants and bars.
Things to do in Gastonia NC & Gaston County
We hope you are as excited as we are to dive into all the fun things there are to do in and around Gastonia. Now, when you take your trip to Gastonia, you’ll already be an expert on this wonderful place. In the article below, we have all the great attractions, places to eat, places to stay, and so much more.
1. The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Address: 1500 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054
The Schiele Museum of Natural History is one of the most popular attractions in Gastonia and is a must-do during your trip.
The Schiele Museum is mostly a science and natural history museum but with tons of hands-on learning experiences and amazing activities for the kids. The Schiele Museum is also home to the second-largest planetarium in North Carolina and a beautiful nature path.
2. Lineberger Park
Address: 632 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054
Lineberger Park is a popular 18.5-acre public park located in the heart of Gastonia.
The park has been open since the 1920s and has popular attractions like the public pool, waterslide, and splash pad.
3. Rotary Centennial Pavilion
Address: 107 N South St, Gastonia, NC 28052
Located near downtown Gastonia is the Rotary Centennial Pavilion, an outdoor event space and music venue. Here, you can find live concerts all year round and other fun events that take place in town.
4. American Military Museum of Gastonia
Address: 109 W 2nd Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
The American Military Museum is a fascinating history/military museum that has been open since 1930.
The museum holds fascinating relics, artifacts, uniforms, photographs, and other exhibits that memorialize and showcase the American military and wars. This museum is also a common meeting place for Veterans.
5. Adventure Landing
Address: 2600 E Franklin Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28056
Adventure Landing offers affordable family fun with all kinds of activities for everyone to enjoy. They have batting/softball cages, mini golf, and arcade games.
6. Cool Beans Cat Café
Address: 108 E Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
You may have heard of the beloved cat cafes sweeping the nation. Cool Beans is Gastonia’s first cat cafe and a great place to spend some time.
Guests are welcome to stop by and get an espresso drink and hang out with adorable rescue cats who are all up for adoption.
7. Martha Rivers Park
Address: 1515 Neal Hawkins Rd, Gastonia, NC 28056
Martha Rivers Park is a whopping 48-acre park that was built and made for kids. There is a large youth sports complex and a fun castle-themed playground for kids of all ages. You can also find lots of room to walk around and picnic shelters.
8. Daniel Stowe Gardens
Address: 6500 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC 28012
The Daniel Stowe Gardens is a historical botanical garden on 380 acres of land. The gardens include all kinds of landscapes, from rolling hills to lush meadows, lakefront areas, and a number of themed gardens, including butterfly gardens. During each season, the gardens are illuminated with festive lights, such as summer lights or Christmas lights.
9. Rankin Lake Park
Address: 1750 Rankin Lake Rd, Gastonia, NC 28052
Rankin Lake Park is the perfect place to be on a warm summer day. The lake is a beautiful family gathering spot with tons of picnic shelters, lake access, fishing access, places to kayak and canoe, paved walking/biking trails, and more.
10. Crowders Mountain State Park
Address: 522 Park Office Ln, Kings Mountain, NC 28086
Crowders Mountain State Park is a large, famous state park that can be found just a 13-minute drive from downtown Gastonia. The park offers tons of hiking, camping, fishing, and sightseeing opportunities.
There are two mountain peaks inside the park, one of which is the highest point in Gaston County, and that allows for some of the most magnificent views of the area.
If you are visiting Crowders Mountain State Park and are looking for a good hike, then you should hop on the Pinnacle Trail, a 4.2-mile out-and-back trail with great views.
11. Gastonia Farmers Market
Address: 410 E Long Ave, Gastonia, NC 28054
A large indoor farmers market is open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday all year round. The market hosts tons of local produce vendors selling 100% farm-fresh produce, baked goods, and crafts.
12. Altitude Trampoline Park
Address: 3940 E Franklin Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28056
Altitude Trampoline Park is a thrilling trampoline park that everyone in the family can enjoy. Attractions include the foam pit, dodgeball, trampoline basketball, the main court, and a kid’s bounce area. You can’t go wrong with a family trip to the trampoline park!
13. African American Museum of History & Culture
Address: 300 S Firestone St, Suite P, Gastonia, NC 28052
The African American Museum of History and Culture showcases the history of African Americans living in Gastonia. African Americans played a large part in building Gastonia, and their legacy can be found through art, artifacts, photographs, and more at this museum. For more information, there are a variety of programs for children and adults at the museum as well.
14. George Poston Park
Address: 1101 Lowell Spencer Mountain Rd, Gastonia, NC 28056
This dog-friendly park has plenty of space to walk around, go mountain biking and picnicking, visit the lake, and play on the sports fields.
And if you are looking for a good dog park, George Poston Park is a great place to take your furry friend.
15. CityCade Classic Arcade
Address: 122 S Oakland St, Gastonia, NC 28052
CityCade is a totally retro 80s and 90s-inspired arcade with all your favorite nostalgic games, Pinball, and beer pong. They also have a full kitchen and a full bar with craft beers and signature cocktails. Look online for one of their themed trivia nights, open mic nights, or karaoke.
16. Highland Rail Trail Downtown
Address: 1201-1299 Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Way, Gastonia, NC 28054
Highland Rail Trail is a paved walking/biking path that links downtown Gastonia to Sims Legion Park. The trail is 1.8 miles total and great for a light walk, strollers, bikers, and jogging.
17. Avon-Catawba Creeks Greenway
Address: Lineberger Park & Ferguson Park, Gastonia, NC 28052
The Avon-Catawba Creek Greenway is a 2.7-mile paved track that crosses over the Catawba River and connects neighborhoods around Gastonia. It is a relaxing path where native birds are often sighted.
18. Little Theater of Gastonia
Address: 238 S Clay St, Gastonia, NC 28052
The Little Theater of Gastonia is a non-profit performing arts theater that has been open since 1950. The theater organizes and teaches those who want to perform, sing, and act on stage for a live audience. The theater holds classes and summer camps for kids and adults and has a variety of shows playing throughout the year.
19. George Pappas’ Bowling
Address: 2501 S York Rd, Gastonia, NC 28052
George Pappas’ Bowling is the most classic bowling alley you could think of and is Gastonia’s only locally owned and family-operated bowling center. They have 32 lanes of bowling fun, and they offer bumper bowling, cosmic bowling, and bowling parties.
20. Xtreme Xcapes
Address: 246 N New Hope Rd, Gastonia, NC 28054
Xtreme Xcapes is Gastonia’s premier escape room center with a fun variety of themed escape rooms for groups of 2-8 people. Players have 60 minutes to crack the code and escape!
21. South Fork River Park
Address: 4185 Mountain View St, Gastonia, NC 28056
The South Fork River Park is a beautiful park with a one-mile walking trail, 800 feet of river access, and picnic areas.
This is a popular place for paddling, kayaking, fishing, and swimming.
22. Sims Legion Park | Gaston College Rhinos Baseball Team
Address: 1001 North Marietta St. Gastonia NC
Sims Legion Park is a 3,000-seat baseball field and the home field to the Gaston College Rhinos baseball team. This is a state-of-the-art baseball field with all the bells and whistles and a great concession stand.
23. Caromont Health Park – Gastonia Honey Hunters
Address: 800 W Franklin Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28052
Caromont Health Park is a multi-use stadium that opened in 2021. The ballpark is used to accommodate all kinds of sports and is the home field to the Gastonia Honey Hunters, a professional, independent league baseball team. Honey Hunters start their season in late April and end in mid-September.
24. Ella’s Therapeutic Baths & Spa
Address: 916 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054
Are you looking to wind down during this trip and treat yourself to a little spa day? Ella’s Therapeutic Baths and Spa is the leading provider of holistic relaxation for the Gastonia area. Their full spa includes a variety of massages, aromatic baths, saunas, body scrubs, a salt room, waxing, and facials.
25. Town of Cramerton Goat Island Park and Greenway
Address: 141 8th Ave, Cramerton, NC 28032
Goat Island Park is in the middle of the South Fork River and is full of fun activities.
Two paved pedestrian bridges lead guests to the park, where they can find an 18-hole disc golf course, two playgrounds, fishing piers, cornhole, walking trails, and picnic shelters.
26. Lineberger’s Farm
Address: 906 Dallas Stanley Hwy, Dallas, NC 28034
Lineberger’s Farm is a fun, family farm that is open during the summer and fall seasons. They have pick-your-own fields of blackberries, strawberries, grapes, and pumpkins. They also have a wonderful farm store with fresh produce, baked goods, jams, and more.
October is a very popular time of year to visit the Lineberger Farm as they open their U-Pick pumpkin patch, which comes along with hay rides, playgrounds, hay bale mountains, games, food, and animals.
27. Dallas Lavender Lane Farm
Address: 937 Old Willis School Rd, Dallas, NC 28034
The Dallas Lavender Lane Farm is a beautiful lavender farm with fields of fresh lavender that are available for purchase (seasonally), along with lavender bath products and more.
The Dallas Lavender Lane Farm is also a popular palace for festivals, live events, weddings, and music. They have the cutest goats that you can visit and also playgrounds for the kids to enjoy. They also have Jeep trails for all your off-road lovers!
Coming up in September on the 23rd and 24th is their highly anticipated BBQ Cook-Off and Country festival, a two-day event with barbecue contests, live music, entertainment, vendors, and games.
28. Gaston County Museum
Address: 131 W Main St, Dallas, NC 28034
The Gaston County Museum is a place that is for preserving and sharing the history of Gastonia and Gaston County. There are a number of rotating art and artifact exhibits, alongside an interesting number of permanent exhibits, that truly showcase how Gastonia got to where it is today. Through the museum, guests can also explore the interactive programs for kids and adults.
29. Kate’s Skating Rink
Address: 1151 Skating Rink Dr, Gastonia, NC 28054
Kate’s Skating Rink is a fun, old-school-style skating rink that is for skaters of all ages. Kate’s has been operating since 1961 and has evolved into a community-building, family-friendly spot that always ensures a good time. Guests can enjoy open skate, skate classes, roller derby, speed skating, arcade games, and concessions.
30. Monster Golf
Address: 3924 E Franklin Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28056
Monster Golf is a family fun mini golf chain that is entirely monster-themed. They have tons of fun laser lights, a glow-in-the-dark course, black lights, a DJ, and arcade games. It is the ultimate mini-golf fun that everyone in the family can enjoy.
31. Regal Franklin Square
Address: 3778 E Franklin Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054
Are you thinking about catching a movie? Regal Franklin Square is the ideal movie theater in Gastonia. They play all the newest releases, have a great selection of showtimes, plush seating, and a large concessions stand with treats and snacks.
32. Boathouse | Canoe Kayak Rental
Address: 115 Willow Dr, McAdenville, NC 28101
The Boathouse is a canoe and kayak rental service for Rankin Lake. They also offer boat tours and excursions on the Catawba-Wateree River Basin.
Guests can rent paddle boards, kayaks, and paddle boats and receive fishing passes for the lake.
33. Wine and Design
Address: 324 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
Wine and Design is the ultimate way to kick back and have a great time with friends. Pick a day and grab your partner or group of friends to enjoy a glass of wine while playing with your painting skills.
Eats & Drinks in Gastonia NC & Gaston County
We cannot list them all, but here are some great options for you to choose from.
✅ Cavendish Brewery
Address: 207 N Chester St, Gastonia, NC 28052
Cavendish Brewery is a fun community-building brewery with award-winning beers and weekly activities and events for people of all ages.
✅ Tony’s Ice Cream
Address: 604 E Franklin Blvd #7111, Gastonia, NC 28054
A local favorite mom-and-pop ice cream shop with 28 flavors of handmade ice cream and a large menu of American-style foods.
✅ Webb Custom Kitchen
Address: 182 S South St, Gastonia, NC 28052
An upscale restaurant located in a historic movie theater. Webb Custom Kitchens focuses on creative American flavors that highlight Gastonia’s golden age.
✅ Lotus Bar & Eatery
Address: 1941 Hoffman Rd #1, Gastonia, NC 28054
An eccentric fine dining restaurant with a lovely variety of foods, from low-country Southern foods to sushi, modern American cuisine, and craft cocktails.
✅ Pita Wheel
Address: 110 S York St, Gastonia, NC 28052
The Pita Wheel is a lively neighborhood restaurant perfect for grabbing a quick lunch or dinner. They have indoor and outdoor eating and a full bar with signature cocktails.
✅ The Rooster
Address: 334 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
The Rooster is a local hangout spot that displays art and crafts from local artists and is a popular place for live entertainment and music. They have light snacks and a full bar.
✅ Gaston Pour House: Drinks, Food, Coffee & Lounge
Address: 170 S South St #103B, Gastonia, NC 28052
The Gaston Pour House has about everything you could ask for! They have an enjoyable menu with pub fares, craft beers, cocktails, and coffee. Gaston Pour House is a great place to catch live music or an open mic night.
✅ The Vintage Whiskey and Cigar Bar of Gastonia
Address: 190 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
The Vintage Whiskey and Cigar Bar is Gastonia’s premium private membership lounge with a bold selection of cigars, cocktails, coffee, and small plates. Memberships can be arranged online or in person.
✅ Smith’s Soul Food Bistro
Address: 209 S Chestnut St, Gastonia, NC 28054
For all the best Southern-inspired soul food, you’ll want to visit Smith’s Soul Food. They serve all homemade meals, host live jazz musicians, and give the community a warm, loving spot to enjoy.
✅ Mangiamo Café
Address: 207 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
Mangiamo Cafe serves 32 flavors of gelato made fresh daily. Mangiamo Cafe also includes sweet treats and espresso drinks.
✅ Confluence South Fork
Address: 117 Center St, Cramerton, NC 28032
Confluence is a non-profit gathering space where local artists can showcase their art, clothing, photographs, and more. There is a full bar and open mic night every Wednesday,
✅ Floyd & Blackie’s
Address: 142 8th Ave, Cramerton, NC 28032
A small, laid-back cafe with bakery items, breakfast foods, and coffee.
✅ Mayworth’s Public House
Address: 115 Center St, Cramerton, NC 28032
A staple to the Cramerton/Gastonia area is Mayworth’s Public House. The charming restaurant serves upscale American pub-style foods with a full bar with lots of craft beer options.
✅ JIA Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar
Address: 3418 S New Hope Rd, Gastonia, NC 28056
JIA Asian Fusion is Gastonia’s favorite Asian cuisine and sushi spot. They have a variety of Pan-Asian dishes and a large sushi bar with everything you could ask for.
✅ Riverside Fish House
Address: 1341 Dallas Stanley Hwy, Dallas, NC 28034
A family-style seafood restaurant with tons of variety and lots of indoor and outdoor seating.
✅ Fannie Cakes Cafe
Address: 103 Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Way, Gastonia, NC 28052
Fannie Cakes Cafe serves some of the best award-winning Southern food in all of Gastonia. The owner calls Fannie Cakes Southern Cajun, with a hip twist. Stop in for some amazing grits.
✅ Gilmore’s Mercantile
Address: 137 E Franklin Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28052
Gilmore’s Mercantile is not just a coffee bar but an interesting retail shop in a 1920s General Store. They have a little something for everyone inside!
✅ Papa’s & Beer
Address: 3150 Dallas High Shoals Hwy, Dallas, NC 28034
High-quality, authentic Mexican food with incredible dishes to choose from.
You’ll enjoy their great atmosphere. They also serve a bean dip with chips instead of salsa; if you love your salsa, make sure to check out the salsa bar for a great variety.
Address: 168 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
Barristers is an upscale restaurant located in The Esquire Hotel. They serve a high-quality breakfast, lunch, and dinner with locally sourced ingredients.
✅ Viva Tequis Taqueria And Cantina
Address: 238 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
Viva Tequis Taqueria is a counter-service authentic Mexican restaurant with delicious homemade food and amazing margaritas.
✅ Freemans Pub
Address: 173 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
A local favorite Irish-American pub with excellent service, pub fare foods, great service, and a comforting atmosphere. Check them out on the weekends for live music.
✅ The Notary Coffee Shop
Address: 168 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
The Notary Coffee Shop can also be found in The Esquire Hotel as the hotel’s signature coffee shop and bakery. They have novelty coffee and light bites.
✅ Taxco Mexican Grill
Address: 930 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054
Taxco Mexican Grill may be one of Gastonia’s best-kept secrets. They serve incredible handmade tacos, nachos, burritos, and more in a laid-back environment.
✅ La Casa De Juli – Empanada Café
Address: 1003 Union Rd, Gastonia, NC 28054
La Casa De Juli is Gastonia’s premier Dominican restaurant with a lively atmosphere. They have a large variety of items, such as handmade empanadas, rice bowls, fresh juices, and lots more.
BBQ in Gastonia NC
✅ Ray’s Country Smokehouse-Grill
Address: 219 S Broad St, Gastonia, NC 28052
Ray’s Country Smokehouse is an old-fashioned 50s-style dinner restaurant with classic homemade North Carolina barbecue and Southern-style sides.
✅ R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue
Address: 1318 Gaston Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue has been serving the Southeast for 77 years, and they have come up with some very famous sandwiches and homemade sauces over the years. Visit the Gastonia location for a taste of the favorites like the pimento cheeseburgers and slaw sandwiches.
✅ Ole Carolina Barbeque
Address: 1011 Union Rd, Gastonia, NC 28054
A family-owned and operated barbecue joint that makes homemade hickory smoked barbecue fresh daily. Ole Caronia Barbeque has been voted the best barbecue in the Carolinas, so you don’t want to miss out!
✅ The Smoke Pit
Address: 421 Cox Rd, Gastonia, NC 28054
The Smoke Pit is a laid back quick service barbecue joint with several delicious homemade sides and sandwiches.
✅ Shane’s Rib Shack
Address: 3660 E Franklin Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28056
Shane’s is an authentic counter-service Southern barbecue restaurant with a roadhouse-style atmosphere. They serve up a slow-cooked barbecue with many delicious Southern sides.
✅ Kyle Fletcher’s BBQ & Catering
Address: 4507 Wilkinson Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28056
Kyle Fletcher’s BBQ is a local favorite restaurant with the coziest, authentic atmosphere. For years, Kyle Fletcher’s has been voted best barbecue in Gaston County for their barbecue pork sandwiches and fried chicken.
✅ Black’s Barbecue
Address: 2902 York Hwy, Gastonia, NC 28052
A laid-back barbecue stop with fast service, big portions, and great prices.
Address: 305 S Main St, Lowell, NC 28098
Hillbilly’s is a large, family-style restaurant that is famous for their hand-cut steaks cooked over a hickory wood smoke pit, Southern sides, and a great selection of other barbecue goodies.
Address: 4571 S New Hope Rd, Gastonia, NC 28056
RayNathan’s is a large restaurant with a rustic atmosphere. They serve up barbecue using only the finest and freshest local ingredients. Locals rave about their brisket and amazing homemade barbecue sauce.
Annual Events in Gastonia NC & Gaston County
Here are some of Gaston County’s best festivals and annual events that you don’t want to miss.
✅ Gaston All-American Fair (June 16-25, 2023) – The Gaston All-American Fair is Gastonia’s big county fair with all your favorite fair games, food, rides, entertainment, and more. For ten days, guests can play games, eat delicious fried food, visit local vendors, and ride carnival rides. The fair also includes a special fireworks show day and Military appreciation day.
✅ Kids Catfish Tournament (July 15, 2023) – The Kids Catfish Tournament is a family-fun event that takes place in Dallas Park every July. The tournament is held at two large ponds at the end of Leisure Lane in Dallas Park. It is free to enter and free to participate. Food trucks will provide food and ice cream.
✅ Cotton Ginning Days (October 13, 14, 15, 2023) – The Cotton Ginning Days event is a highly anticipated event that takes place annually on the second weekend of October. The festival celebrates and shares Gastonia’s rich history, along with other fun fall-themed family activities. Throughout the weekend, there will be hot apple cider, donuts, dinners, workshops, vendors, and more.
✅ Gastonia Christmas Parade/Christmas in the City (December 3, 2023) – A full day of holiday-themed activities that takes over downtown Gastonia. There will be live entertainment, music, games, food, and the big Christmas parade that takes place at 5 p.m. on Main Ave, followed by the annual Christmas tree lighting.
✅ Christmas Town | McAdenville, NC (November 25-December 2023) – McAdenville is one of the most magical Christmas towns in the country. From the end of November through December, McAdenville is covered in thousands of twinkling lights and Christmas decorations and has all the Christmas-themed events that you are searching for. On December 1, the town holds its Christmas tree lighting, and the popular Yule Log Parade takes place on December 14.
Where To Stay in Gastonia, NC
📍The Esquire Hotel Downtown Gastonia, Ascend Hotel Collection – The Esquire Hotel is Gastonia’s most talked about hotel and perfect for any trip. The beautiful hotel is set in downtown Gastonia in a 1917 historic building. Now restored, the hotel is designed perfectly to suit your needs, whether you are traveling solo or traveling with the family. Besides having a prime location, the hotel offers high-quality meals and drinks at its restaurants and bars.
📍Hillcrest Cottage – This beautiful two-bedroom cottage has a perfect location in downtown Gastonia and is just minutes away from some of Gastonia’s most popular attractions. Guests will be able to enjoy a clean, comfortable setting with a rustic, modern-style environment, a full kitchen, two full bathrooms, and access to the lovely front porch.
Gastonia NC: FAQs
📌 Is Gastonia a suburb of Charlotte?
Gastonia is considered a large suburb of Charlotte and is the second-largest satellite city of Charlotte, NC.
📌 What are winters like in Gastonia, NC?
Winters in Gastonia are typically mild, with high temperatures of 55 degrees and low temperatures rarely falling below 38. Gastonia sees around 2 inches of snow on average a year.
📌 Does Gastonia, NC, have a downtown?
Gastonia does have a downtown district that runs for about five blocks.
📌 Is Gaston County and Gastonia the same?
Gastonia is a city that is within Gaston County. There are a handful of other communities in Gaston County, such as Belmont, High Shoals, and Bessemer City to name a few.
Gastonia and Gaston County are often overlooked when folks are looking around the Charlotte area for things to explore and places to go. However, Gaston County is a wonderful place full of history, thrilling outdoor adventures, tons of great restaurants, and so much more! Gastonia should definitely be on your list of places to explore in this part of North Carolina.