North Charleston, the state's third largest city, has something for everyone. 

It's a center for retail activity and sales with a growing manufacturing presence that includes Boeing's 787 Dreamliner assembly plant . Families love the beautiful parks, which include Riverfront Park at the edge of Charleston's old Navy base. A hip food-and-beverage scene and active neighborhood community centers attract young professionals. 

North Charleston's municipal history began in 1972 when the areas in and around Park Circle were incorporated. The history of that area far predates the city's incorporation in 1972, though.

Developed in the early 1900s to resemble the English concept of a "circular city," the neighborhoods adjacent to the park served as company housing for an asbestos manufacturer. (Popular in the late 19th century, the English "circular city" design placed a garden at the center of the city, with an outside layer of housing followed by a third layer of employment centers). 

Unlike the adjacent bedroom community cities of Goose Creek (incorporated in 1961) and Hanahan (incorporated in 1971), which originated as plantation and farming communities, North Charleston was largely an industrial area and a Navy town long before it became a city.

Although the former Charleston Naval Base closed in 1996, the area still has Joint Base Charleston. The Air Force calls the base home for its C-17 Globemaster cargo fleet. The Air Force also retains a Naval Weapons Station facility in Goose Creek.

Many residents in North Charleston like to boast that they are "15 minutes from everywhere," an exaggeration, but not by much. Living this close to downtown Charleston, West Ashley, Mount Pleasant and the Isle of Palms can mean a shorter commute to work and play. The Charleston International Airport is near the intersection of Interstates 26 and 526, which lies in the center of the city. 

Buy an older house with lots of charm or get spacious new digs in North Charleston, Hanahan or Goose Creek for a fraction of the prices you’ll find downtown or east of the Cooper. Many of the area's newer neighborhoods feature houses that are closer together with large front porches, walking paths and dog parks.

Although much is changing around North Charleston, Hanahan and Goose Creek, many of the neighborhoods still retain an old-fashioned sense of neighborly love. Try joining a civic association or attending city council meetings to keep up with the local news. All are welcoming to newcomers. 

While Charleston is known for its high-end restaurants serving classic Southern and Gullah cuisine, more adventurous fare can be found just north of the city. For tastes as divergent as Brazilian churrascaria, Korean barbecue and authentic British fish and chips, there is much more to the food here than shrimp and grits.

Parks, playgrounds and athletic fields abound. Bring your friends for a game of kickball at Kapstone Park or try your hand at bike polo at Danny Jones Park. Take a stroll along the Cooper River at Riverfront Park. Or let the kids cool off at Charleston County's Whirlin’ Waters waterpark.

If you own a jon boat, kayak or canoe, gorgeous views are never far away. Avid paddlers will no doubt tell you their favorite spots to put in are on Foster Creek, the Cooper River or the Old Santee Canal. Head out early in the morning on the Goose Creek Reservoir to spy gators, egrets and other aquatic birds up close and personal.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 843-937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter. 

Hannah Alani is a reporter at The Post and Courier covering race, immigration and rural life across the Palmetto State. Before graduating from Indiana University and moving to Charleston in 2017, her byline appeared in The New York Times.