As we all know 2020 was a tough year with the travel and tourism taking an especially hard hit due to COVID 19. The precautions enacted to combat the pandemic resulted in overall hotel demand drops of approximately 15% in Gaston County from the previous year. However, with outdoor recreation being largely available and considered safe, we saw weekend hotel demand remain more resilient, down just 8% from the 2019 pace.
2 New Hotels
This past year brought the opening of two new hotels. Both can be found at exit 27 on I-85. To the north on Hwy 273 heading into Mount Holly is Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. Home2 Suites can be found south of the Interstate in Belmont. Both hotels offer free breakfast, WiFi, parking, fitness center, pool, business center and meeting rooms. Pet-friendly rooms are also available at Home2 Suites.
Gastonia Honey Hunters Professional Baseball
FUSE District in Gastonia will connect the downtown area to Loray Mills. Lots of future development is planned for this area but opening this spring is a multi-purpose stadium which will be the home to the Gastonia Honey Hunters a professional baseball team in the Atlantic League. The Honey Hunters will host 70 home games in the new ballpark this year and season tickets will be available soon. The new ballpark is designed to accommodate a variety of other events, including concerts, soccer, lacrosse, and football with an artificial turf surface.
New Opportunities to Get Outside
Gaston County is committed to preserving natural spaces, not only to sustain the environment but to offer unparalleled access for everyone to enjoy. Here are several new opportunities to get outside and hike, bike or paddle.
Rocky Branch Park, a popular recreational park in Belmont, is currently undergoing upgrades to make it a must see outdoor attraction for visitors. When completed this park will offer an extensive trail system for hikers and mountain bikers of all skill levels providing easy, moderate and challenging trails. Best of all this park enhancement will connect Cramerton and Belmont making it convenient for adventurists to make a day of it and enjoy the park followed by some much deserved chill time in town at local eating establishments.
Opening in 2020 is a 1.2-mile paved path along the Catawba River. The Catawba Riverfront Greenway connects downtown Mount Holly with Tuckaseege Park with plans to eventually tie in to other walking trails in the area.
Also in Mount Holly, Dutchman's Creek Greenway is a paved greenway, spanning .6 miles from CaroMont Regional Medical Center to River Street Park. This trail is slated to open in early 2021.
Another trail in Gaston County is Avon Catawba Extension located in Gastonia. A 0.5-mile extension of this trail will link Lineburger Park to East 2nd connecting neighborhoods with outdoors areas. This trail is currently under construction with plans of opening in 2021.
Revisions at Crowders Mountain State Park
The pandemic spurred record attendance at Crowders Mountain State Park as travelers traded indoor spaces for the great outdoors. Due to the spike in traffic, Pinnacle Trail was re-routed to bypass worn sections of the trail and carve a new sustainable path.
11 Mills Blueway
This blueway trail was created by the Gaston County Department of Travel and Tourism and includes multiple stops along both the Catawba and South Fork of the Catawba River with things to do and see. Along the way paddlers will find places to launch their boats, equipment rental as well as eateries and breweries to stop and relax. A map of the trail can be found on their website at GoGastonNC.org.
Kayak the South Fork of the Catawba River
Coming in 2021, kayaking opportunities along the South Fork of the Catawba River will get easier with the introduction of a kayak rental and shuttle service by Catawba RiverKeeper, headquartered at McAdenville River Park. Visitors can float down the river from McAdenville to to Goat Island Park in Cramerton and be shuttled back to their car.
A New Dock for Paddlers in McAdenville
With grant money from The Community Foundation of Gaston County the Catawba Lands Conservancy will construct a new kayak/canoe landing dock at the R.Y. McAden take-out in McAdenville. This is one of the most popular of nine “put-ins” for paddlers along the river. Launching from this location will take paddlers through some of the most ecologically diverse lands in the region which are protected by the Conservancy.
Ridgeline Craft Beverage Trail
The Ridgeline Craft Beverage Trail features breweries, distilleries and wineries located in the area that deliver unique experiences and hand crafted beverages. Recently the Gaston County Department of Travel and Tourism with the help of Bandwango, created a passport program to turn the trail into a mobile game experience. Visitors who sign up for the passport, check-in using the APP at a specified number of stops along the trail will win a prize that is shipped to their home. Six of the locations are located in Gastonia and three are located outside two in Stanley County and one, the newest addition to the trail, is in Lincolnton.
For more information about places to go and things to do in Gaston County as well as how to turn a any of these destinations into a weekend adventure, visit GoGastonNC.org the official website of Gaston County Travel and Tourism.