Expert Tips


Best Christmas Shopping in Cincinnati

Christmas Shopping in Cincinnati: Historic Shopping Districts, Malls and Holiday Events

With so much Christmas shopping being done online nowadays, holiday shoppers who visit brick and mortar stores likely have another motivation. They probably want to find unique gifts, support local businesses or experience the city. Shoppers can experience all of that and more in Cincinnati.

Several historic shopping districts are ideal for Christmas shopping this year. Over-the-Rhine tops the list, not only because of its independent shops, but also because of several holiday shopping events being held in the district, including Crafty Supermarket’s Holiday Show, The City Flea Holiday Market and Art on Vine’s Holiday Gift Sale.

Bellevue’s Historic Fairfield Avenue and Downtown Milford are two more charming historic districts with holiday events. Bellevue hosts a Christmas Walk and Milford has Hometown for the Holidays. Both offer gift shops, candy shops and more.

Where do Santa’s elves shop for toys? You’ll find unique, high quality toys at King Arthur’s Court Toys in Oakley Square and Coolest Toys on Earth in Downtown Milford.

Looking for handcrafted art made by local artisans? In addition to the holiday events, try Indigenous, MiCA 12/v and Urban Eden in Over-the-Rhine, Circle of Hope Artisans in Bellevue and Celebrate Local, Shop The Best of Ohio in Liberty Center.

Excellent local bookstores include Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Commons and the Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore in Oakley Square.

Retail chain stores make returns easy for out-of-town gift recipients. You’ll find a diverse selection of chain retailers at the brand new Liberty Center, Rookwood Commons and Kenwood Towne Centre. The largest outlet mall in the area is Cincinnati Premium Outlets.


Cincinnati Premium Outlets
Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Premium Outlets

Bargain shoppers looking to stretch their Christmas budget know to head to Cincinnati Premium Outlets, the largest outlet mall in Greater Cincinnati. You'll find many name brands including Ann Taylor, Under Armour, Lacoste, Michael Kors and more. Need some goodies to fill the stockings? Check out Lindt Chocolate. For extra savings, join the VIP Shopper Club on their website. It's free and provides exclusive deals. Starting November 28, Cincinnati Premium Outlets will have holiday music entertainment and a Strolling Santa who will have treats for kids and will pose for photos, at no cost. Cincinnati Premium Outlets is open on Thanksgiving Day starting at 6 pm and open on Black Friday from midnight until 10 pm.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Christmas shoppers will find a wide variety of name-brand gifts at bargain prices at Cincinnati Premium Outlets.

Terri's expert tip: Take advantage of the extended holiday hours that start on Mon., Nov. 30, with extra-long hours the week before Christmas, as well as a last-minute shopping event Dec. 17-20.

Read more about Cincinnati Premium Outlets →

Kenwood Towne Centre is a go-to destination for Christmas shopping in Cincinnati, especially with over 60 exclusive retailers that can't be found elsewhere in the city, so expect it to be crowded. You'll find three major department stores - Macy's, Dillard's and Nordstrom - plus over 180 specialty shops. Kenwood Towne Centre offers clothing, accessories, home furnishings, electronics and more. The LEGO Store and Apple are especially popular this time of year. Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candles offer holiday scents and specials. The many clothing stores are perfect for shopping for the fashionistas on your list. You can also bring little ones and have their photo taken with Santa.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: With three major department stores and over 180 specialty stores, Kenwood Towne Centre could easily be your destination for one-stop Christmas Shopping.

Terri's expert tip: Traffic is especially bad during the Christmas shopping season. Use the alternate entrances. When coming from the south, exit on Montgomery Rd. (exit 12), turn right onto Montgomery Rd., then left onto Galbraith Rd. From the north, take Ronald Reagan Highway west, then exit Kenwood Rd. south.

Read more about Kenwood Towne Centre →

Hyde Park Square
Photo courtesy of Lori Wellinghoff

Christmas shoppers looking for sophisticated gifts will appreciate the variety that can be found at Hyde Park Square. With a wide variety of independent shops, boutiques and art galleries, you're sure to find some very unique gifts. Hyde Park Square offers clothing boutiques, shoe stores, jewelers, outdoor outfitters and gourmet food shops. The Spicy Olive sells imported flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars that would make thoughtful gifts for friends and family who enjoy cooking. Shopping for kids? You'll find some adorable designer outfits at Castle House. Check out Lululemon and Oakley Cycles for gifts for the athletes on your shopping list.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Discriminating shoppers will find a variety of unique gift ideas in Hyde Park's independent shops and boutiques.

Terri's expert tip: Hyde Park Square is a very walkable shopping district. Find a parking spot, then enjoy a walk through the many shops of this chic neighborhood.

Read more about Hyde Park Square →

Rookwood Commons & Pavilion
Photo courtesy of Rookwood Commons

Rookwood Commons & Pavilion is home to over 70 stores and restaurants, mostly popular retail chains. Gift receipts offered by chain stores make it ideal for shopping for out-of-town relatives who can easily exchange a gift if necessary. You'll find a great selection of clothing stores, off-price retailers, food and cooking specialty stores as well as home furnishing stores. Be sure to check out Joseph-Beth Booksellers for the readers on your list. Joseph-Beth is a large local bookstore with a great selection for the adults and kids on your list. Rookwood has many restaurants onsite, so you could easily plan an entire day of shopping here.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The many retail chains of Rookwood Commons & Pavilion offer a huge variety for everyone on your shopping list.

Terri's expert tip: Plan your shopping trip to Rookwood during non-peak hours during the Christmas shopping season to avoid traffic.

Read more about Rookwood Commons & Pavilion →

Photo courtesy of Terri Weeks

Cincinnati has a plethora of talented artisans and Indigenous is a convenient place to shop, with the work of over 150 artists in one convenient store. The many artistic pieces make great gifts, especially this Christmas shopping season. You'll find pieces in a variety of mediums including glass, metal, jewelry, pottery, fiber arts, prints, wood, mosaics, paintings and more. Indigenous is hosting a Holiday Walk Weekend from Nov. 19-22 with daily jewelry trunk shows by guest artists. Customers will receive a free ornament with any $50 purchase. Indigenous will host a trunk show of Fab Hats on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28).

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Indigenous is the ultimate store for shopping locally for unique handcrafted gifts.

Terri's expert tip: The handmade jewelry at Indigenous makes a great stocking stuffer.

Read more about Indigenous →

Liberty Center
Photo courtesy of Liberty Center

Liberty Center is the Cincinnati area's newest place to shop and is open just in time for the Christmas shopping season. The mixed-use development also includes restaurants, movie theaters, comedy club, office space, apartments and a hotel. Dillard's department store anchors the center with a 200,000 square foot store. Dick's Sporting Goods is the second largest retailer. While most stores are retail chains, you won't want to miss Celebrate Local, a store which carries artisanal food, jewelry, books and art, all made by Ohioans. It's the perfect place to find a unique gift. Liberty Center also has popular retailers like Banana Republic, Build-A-Bear Workshop and Old Navy. Liberty Center will host a Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 20 and offer photos with Santa throughout the holiday season. The free Cincinnati Children's Discovery Center offers a place for kids to play.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Liberty Center is an exciting new shopping destination in Cincinnati with a fantastic store feature locally-made products, along with many popular retail chains.

Terri's expert tip: In a rush? Park at a metered parking space outside of the stores instead of in the free parking lots. You'll save time, plus a portion of the money from the meters supports local charities.

Read more about Liberty Center →

Oakley Square
Photo courtesy of Terri Weeks

Oakley Square is one-stop shopping for the young children on your list. The neighborhood of Oakley lies along Madison Road, about a 15-minute drive northeast of downtown Cincinnati. The Square features three independent retailers that specialize in children's toys, clothing and books. King Arthur's Court Toys has a fantastic selection of toys and games. You'll find a huge section of LEGO sets, plus many other high quality brands including Melissa and Doug, Playmobil, K'NEX, Thomas the Tank Engine and Ravensburger puzzles. This is where you'll find the award-winning toys. They also offer complimentary gift wrapping. A couple doors down you'll find The Spotted Goose, a children's boutique with adorable outfits and accessories. Next to that is the Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore and Decafé. In addition to being an ideal place to shop for gifts, Blue Manatee also hosts many events including story times, music and crafts.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Shopping for a child? Oakley Square has you covered with toys, clothing and books.

Terri's expert tip: After your shopping is done, stop in at Dewey's Pizza or Aglamesis Brothers for ice cream.

Read more about Oakley Square →

Downtown Milford
Photo courtesy of Kirk & Company Jewelers for Hometown Holidays

Downtown Milford is a charming four-block historic shopping district in the eastern Cincinnati suburbs. Their annual Hometown for the Holidays event (Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving) is the perfect way to kick of the Christmas shopping season. The festivities include strolling Victorian carolers, antique fire engine rides, horse drawn carriage rides, story times and visits with Santa. Many of the retailers offer special treats. Downtown Milford's stores offer a variety of Christmas gift options. Be sure to check out Coolest Toys on Earth where you'll find all kinds of zany gadgets and gizmos for kids and adults. You'll also find gift shops, antique stores, a jeweler, a boot shop, an outdoor outfitter, an art gallery and a handmade chocolate shop. Downtown Milford has several independent restaurants, so plan to stay for lunch or dinner.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: This historic shopping district has a fantastic event to kick off the Christmas season, plus several stores with interesting gift options.

Terri's expert tip: Downtown Milford is a great place to shop any time, but the Hometown for the Holidays event (Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving) is extra special.

Read more about Downtown Milford →

Bellevue's Historic Fairfield Avenue
Photo courtesy of Jody Robinson

A visit to the charming historic shopping district of Bellevue is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. Don't miss the Christmas Walk on Nov. 27-28. More than 20 locally-owned shops will be providing holiday refreshments and prizes. Plus you can meet Santa on Saturday. You're sure to find all kinds of gift ideas in Bellevue's many shops. Their shops offer everything from artwork to jewelry to doll clothing. Circle of Hope Artisans spotlights local artists. Witt's End Candy Emporium is the perfect place to find some goodies for stocking stuffers, plus they carry a selection of books from local authors. Generation Hill Winery has a tasting room where you can sample before you buy. Bellevue's shops offer an eclectic mix of merchandise, making it an ideal destination for Christmas shopping.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Bellevue is a perfect spot to shop locally for stocking stuffers and other items on your Christmas shopping list.

Terri's expert tip: Looking to shop local this Christmas shopping season? Bellevue offers over 20 locally-owned shops and free parking.

Read more about Bellevue's Historic Fairfield Avenue →

Over-the-Rhine Retail District
Photo courtesy of Photography for the People

Over-the-Rhine is a historic, walkable district north of downtown Cincinnati with many independent shops. Two must-see stores for Christmas shoppers are MiCA 12/v and Urban Eden. Both sell local arts and crafts. Elm & Iron sells vintage and upcycled items for the home. The Little Mahatma sells exotic jewelry and folk art from around the world. It seems there's always an event going on in Over-the-Rhine, and the Christmas season is no different. In addition to Small Business Saturday activities, the Crafty Supermarket's Holiday Show will be held at the Music Hall Ballroom on Nov. 28. The City Flea will have a Holiday Market in Washington Park on Sat., Dec. 12, and Rhinegeist Brewery will host the Art on Vine Holiday Gift Sale on Dec. 13.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Shopping in Over-the-Rhine is a great way to find unique gift ideas while also supporting local small businesses.

Terri's expert tip: In addition to the shops in Over-the-Rhine, the district has many holiday events where shoppers can find gifts.

Read more about Over-the-Rhine Retail District →


Meet Terri Weeks

Terri Weeks, a Cincinnati mother of three, is a former mechanical engineer who became a travel writer quite accidentally. She and a friend started intentionally exploring attractions around...  More About Terri