• Camille Renner

Live Like a Local: Check these must-do activities off your bucket list

The summertime is always filled with special events and celebrations, from pop-up markets to work-out classes, but luckily for Gaston County residents, the fun doesn't stop in the summer. All year round, there are activities for foodies, exercise enthusiasts, art lovers and families to enjoy in Mount Holly, Belmont, Dallas and beyond. Here's our round up of the top 15 attractions and activities for you to check off your Gaston Bucket List.

1. Hike Crowders Mountain

Gaston Outside

4611 Linwood Rd., Gastonia

Daily 8 a.m.-9 p.m. (May-September)

A popular attraction for Gaston County and the surrounding region, Crowders Mountain State Park offers hiking trails varying in difficulty, fishing spots and camp grounds—all in our home county. Starting at the Linwood Rd. access area, hikers can choose between two trails, one being two miles round trip and a strenuous, steep trek up the mountain and the other a much longer trail that requires less exertion. Whichever trail you choose, the vista at the top is worth it with 25 mile views in all directions and the Charlotte skyline can even be seen poking out of the horizon. While this hike is quite the workout, many would consider it a family friendly activity, bringing their kids out to enjoy all that our natural landscape has to offer.

2. Eat at Groovy Beast

Anna Naphtali, Gaston Outside

109 E. Hudson Blvd., Gastonia

Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sunday-Monday, Closed

For burgers, breakfast, vegetarian options and some of your favorite southern delicacies, like grits, look no further than Gastonia's Groovy Beast. An unassuming eatery that shares it's space with a convenience store, Groovy Beast has become a cult-favorite for Gaston County residents. With fresh ground meats, unique daily specials, a kid's menu and an always friendly staff, it is no surprise this hidden gem is so popular.

3. Take a mural tour

Anna Naphtali, Gaston Outside

Various Locations

An important piece of Gaston County's vibrant art scene are the murals that line the streets of Gastonia, Bessemer City, Cherryville and many of our local townships. On the next beautiful day when you have no plans, pack the family in the car, put the windows down and drive all around our county to learn about history through these pieces of art, snap a picture in front of giant painted bees and stop in to Pita Wheel for lunch (be sure to sit in front of their iconic Lucille Ball mural!)

4. Grab a drink at Jailhouse

Chris Rodarte, Gaston Outside

23 S. Main St., Belmont

Wednesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday-Tuesday, Closed

Located in what once was Belmont's city jail, The Jailhouse serves up unique craft cocktails, whiskey flights, cigars and rare beers and wine in a cozy lounge setting—complete with iron cells and scribbles from prisoners of the past on the walls. The Jailhouse is located behind Old Stone Steakhouse, their sister concept (located in Belmont's old police station building,) and Jailhouse guests can order food from Old Stone. To gain entry to the spirit and lounge bar, membership is required, costing $2 per day or $12 for an annual membership.

5. Visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Grant Baldwin, Gaston Outside

5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte

Open 24 hours a day

With 1,300 acres of land, 50 miles of walking trails, access to the Catawba River, the worlds largest manmade whitewater river, ropes courses and more outdoor fun activities, the U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) is a huge regional attraction. The USNWC offers daily activities, like guided hikes, outdoor yoga, kids classes and climbing on their outdoor rock wall, but also hosts a variety of seasonal events. In the winter, the center is transformed into a wonderland, with the walking trails lit up with spectacular lights and ice skaters on the Upper Pond. In the summertime, a live music event called River Jam takes place three days a week, where guests dance, relax, drink beer and take in the beautiful surroundings. We are so lucky to have USNWC, and all the fun that goes on there, right in our home county.

6. Relax at Goat Island Park

Grant Baldwin, Gaston Outside

141 8th Ave., Cramerton

Daily 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

In the heart of Downtown Cramerton, Goat Island Park and Greenway gives residents a space to walk, play, workout, sit with a coffee, get on the water or just relax. Goat Island is home to a walking trail, two playgrounds, ping pong tables, corn hole courts and picnic shelters, making it a great place for individuals, friends couples or families to hang out. Plus, Floyd & Blackies Bakery and Coffee Shop sits just across from the park, so grab a yummy coffee or pastry treat on your way in.

7. Explore the Schiele Museum

Anna Naphtali, Gaston Outside

1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia

Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is one of the numerous museums in Gaston County where people of all ages can learn and grow their worldview. The Schiele has been providing the Gaston County community with interactive exhibits, kid's educational programs and exciting events for 60 years this month. Besides the natural history exhibits, complete with authentic artifacts, the museum is home to an outdoor walking trail and a planetarium with rotating programs showing. Currently, the planetarium is showing a children's magic treehouse animated show and programs about the ocean reef and the sky.

8. Enjoy Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

Photo Courtesy of Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

6500 S. New Hope Rd., Belmont

Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday, Closed