Gaston County is situated west of Charlotte and is the third largest county in the Charlotte region. It has 15 incorporated towns with Gastonia holding the county seat, and 11 unincorporated communities. It is easily accessible from I-85 which runs through the center of the county, the I-485 beltway around Charlotte, US 74, US 321, NC 16 and US 29. It is also close to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte and has a municipal airport as well as an Amtrak stop in Gastonia.
Gaston County was founded in 1846, during a three year industrial boom from 1945-1848, during which the first three cotton mills were established in the county. While Gaston County is well-known for its history in the textile industry, museums, and unique tourist attractions, it is just as famous for its popular fish camps, barbeque restaurants, and good old southern hospitality. With the convenience of close proximity to the Charlotte metro area, most residents and businesses have chosen to reside in Gaston County to enjoy a little slower pace of life and lower cost of living. The historic downtown area of Gastonia is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment to draw more businesses and residents to that area whereas Belmont and Mount Holly have been the fastest growing towns in recent years because of the easy commute to Charlotte.
The county slogan is "Gaston's Got It All" and it's true...there is a tremendous array of attractions and activities for residents and visitors to enjoy year-round. Outdoor enthusiasts won't want to miss the US National Whitewater Center located just over the border of Gaston County. It is an amazing outdoor recreation facility situated on the banks of the Catawba River and includes 307 acres of woodlands encompassing the world's largest circulating river for whitewater rafting, 14 miles of biking, hiking and running trails, numerous zip line courses, canoeing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and one of the world's largest outdoor climbing facilities. Other options include spending the day hiking Crowder's Mountain State Park in Kings Mountain located off I-85, or relaxing in one of the many county parks including Cramerton's 30-acre Goat Island Park and the Gaston County Park in Bessemer City. Residents and visitors also enjoy public access to the Catawba River and South Fork River where they can fish, boat and kayak.
There is a wide variety of museums to visit including The Schiele Museum of Natural History which features a planetarium, exhibits and special programs for all ages; as well as The Gaston County Museum of Art and History, Carolina Harley Davidson Museum, Brevard Station Museum, American Military Museum, Piedmont Carolina Railroad Museum, and the Grier Beam Truck Museum.
The world-renowned Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens is a spectacular way to spend a day. It is situated on over 380 acres offers beautiful nature trails, a conservatory, and lovely walking paths throughout the grounds. Race fans will enjoy Carolina Speedway, also known as "The Action Track", in Gastonia with a 4/10th of a mile oval dirt track and sports fans can take in a Gastonia Grizzlies game featuring college baseball players preparing to play professional ball. A must see each Christmas season is McAddenville's "Christmastown USA" which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year for its annual holiday lights display throughout the town.
Shopping enthusiasts won't want to miss visiting Belmont's Catawba River Antique Mall located in an old textile mill featuring over 350 vendors selling antiques and vintage items, or the nearby Piccolo Antique Mall with more than 70 vendors, and Belmont General Store. If you love a bargain, be sure to visit the Barnyard Flea Market in Dallas. You'll definitely go back for seconds and thirds.
Gaston County is also home to Gaston College in Dallas and Belmont Abbey College in Belmont.