Gastonia is known for its large textile industry and famous textile heritage. Historic areas in the town feature lovely old homes, which were owned by factory mill owners in the 18th and 19th century. As the textile industry dissipated in the last several decades, retail shopping strip malls and track home communities now dominate much of the residential landscape. A huge attraction bringing many visitors to the area is The Schiele Museum of Natural History of downtown on Garrison Boulevard.
Gastonia and surrounding areas are home to several notable cultural centers.
The Schiele Museum of Natural History is located east of downtown on Garrison Boulevard. The main branch of the Gaston-Lincoln Regional Library System is right across the street from the Schiele Museum. The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is located just southeast of the city on NC 279. The U.S. National Whitewater Center (located on the Catawba River) is east of the city in neighboring Mecklenburg County, NC. Forty-Five Minutes away is Southpark Mall in Charlotte, NC. The Northlake Mall is also in Charlotte but is about twenty minutes away.
Gastonia and Gaston County have a varied topography, with the maximum elevations of 1,690 feet (King's Pinnacle) and 1,625 (Crowder's Mountain) both located in the Crowders Mountain State Park, part of which is located within the city limits of Gastonia, several miles west of downtown. The park and the peaks within are popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, and represent the highest elevations in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord Metropolitan Statistical Area. A few smaller mountains are also located at the periphery of the city.
Gastonia is also known for its abundance of churches, primarily Baptist and Methodist.