East Side holiday shopping guide

Walnut Hills/East Walnut Hills/Norwood

Walnut Hills and East Walnut Hills are two vibrant, distinct neighborhoods that share the same 45206 zip code. They are within easy walking or driving distance to each other, so they’re easily a one-stop holiday shopping destination.


To caffeinate your trip, visit either Caffe Vivace in Walnut Hills or Urbana Café in East Walnut Hills. While at Urbana, you can pick up a bag of fresh roasted coffee or one of their unique Holiday Gift Boxes. Make sure to check out the event listings at Caffe Vivace and come back and catch some live jazz. With strict COVID protocol in place, they are one of just a few places nearby where you can see live music this winter.


Along East McMillan Street, stop in to visit entrepreneurship program MORTAR Cincinnati’s Brick Haus pop-up shop to see if any MORTAR alumni are showcasing their goods. While there, purchase MORTAR-branded items to support the nonprofit.


In East Walnut Hills, you’ll find unique gifts and stocking stuffers at &Sundries (soapworks and homegoods) and Indigenous Craft Gallery (arts and crafts by 150 local and regional artists). Pick up something for your favorite pet at Argos Natural Pet Food.


If you’re looking to invest in artwork for your home, check out Manifest Gallery in East Walnut Hills, one of Cincinnati’s premier community-driven gallery spaces. (Check out their list of studio art classes as a possible gift for a loved one.)


Longtime Walnut Hills mainstay, Core Clay, which recently moved to Norwood, offers studio classes and lessons, as well. Stop in to see their array of clay art supplies and a variety of gifts by local sculptors and artisans. For a unique experience-based gift, treat yourself and a special someone to a Core Clay Date Night for $100. If you’d rather stay home, Core Clay is hosting a virtual Holiday Sale through December 24th.


For a more permanent (and more personal) investment in local art, give the gift of a session at White Whale Tattoos. Throw in a White Whale branded t-shirt as a down payment. (Plan ahead for this gift. The artists’ books fill pretty far in advance. Contact White Whale for details about booking.)


Sydney Lang from Black-woman-owned Our Skyn offers plant-based skincare that is ethically sourced, handmade and homegrown in Cincinnati.

If you need a new cut or style after being stuck at home all year, make an appointment for a little holiday glam at A Mirage Beauty Salon, Parlour, or Black Rabbit Salon. For a fresh shave, try the brand-new Cutman Barbershop or the local mainstay Master Blaster Hair Care Center.


On your way out of the neighborhood, stock up on beer at The Growler House, a bottle filling station with 30 local, regional, and national craft beers to enjoy on-site or to take home, or Esoteric Brewing, the region’s first minority-owned micro-brewery.

And swing by one of the area’s famed local restaurants for dine-in or carry-out. Consider Just Q’In BBQ or Suzie Wong’s Asian eats for lunch or dinner while you’re in the neighborhood. Gomez is a great quick or on-the-go meal. O Pie O is currently closed for dining but is offering a variety of holiday pies, both sweet and savory, in addition to their regular menu items. (See the holiday pies here.)

Lastly, for those days ahead when you can’t imagine cooking a full meal, smoked meats and ferments from The Pickled Pig are a perfect start to a charcuterie board or quick bite while wrapping presents.


Hyde Park/Oakley

Hyde Park Square is one of Cincinnati’s oldest business districts, with dozens of shops, restaurants, and watering holes — all walkable, with parking available — in the Square. Here’s a few of them.


Nest has an eclectic mix of woman's accessories, gifts and curiosities for the home. They call it “vintage with a twist.” It is offering curbside service this season, and asks shoppers to call ahead first.


Hyde Park Gourmet Food and Wine has been family-owned and operated since 1996. It offers a fine wine selection and gift baskets, typically filled with one-of-a-kind, high quality products. It also has a certified sommelier help make selections. It’s offering in-store shopping by appointment and curbside and delivery service.


Miller Gallery, opened in 1960, is said to be Cincinnati’s oldest art gallery, and specializes in contemporary art and sculpture.


Down the road at Hyde Park Plaza is Snooty Fox, where shoppers can find luxury and designer brand consignments for women, men’s, and children’s clothing, as well as furniture and home decor.


A couple of miles away, Oakley Square is another walkable district, with a variety of locally owned establishments for shopping and eating.


King Arthur’s Court, started more than 40 years ago, has been an Oakley fixture since 1992, with a huge selection of toys and games for all ages. They also offer complimentary gift wrapping.


A couple doors down, you'll find The Spotted Goose, where owner Amy Fessler curates a selection of clothing for ages newborn to 16 for girls, and newborn to 12 for boys.


Next to that is the Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore. The store is offering private shopping by appointment, virtual shopping, and gift wrapping. And with its Blue Manatee Literacy Project, for every book purchased, a book is donated to a child in the Cincinnati area who might not have access to one.


Down Madison Road from Oakley Square is Mainly Art vintage furniture. Locally owned for more than 25 years, it offers vintage mid-century modern furniture, lighting and accessories, selling, buying and renting items from the 1930’s Art Deco period through the 40’s- 50’s midcentury modern era, to the late 70’s.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.