Ultimate Guide to Back to School Shopping in Cincinnati, Ohio

For when the upcoming school year sneaks up on you

store in cincinnati


Maggie Young


Jan 21, 2021

There are those who love back to school shopping. Tearing off the plastic wrap on new notebooks, using a new set of pens for the first time, or scoring that awesome first day back outfit, they’re here for it.

Then there’s the rest of us, those who aren’t so crazy about going back to school. Honestly, it felt like summer just started.But when the time comes and all of those early mornings driving to swim team practice are over for the season, the family is ready to go back to school shopping.

No matter how you feel about going back to school, shopping is a necessity. Depending on who you’re trying to get ready for the school year, it can be a really difficult process. But luckily, finding where to go for top-notch supplies and awesome deals won’t be something else you have to worry about. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to back to school shopping in Cincinnati, whether you like it or not.

If you plan on moving just in time for the start of the new year, be sure to check out these awesome homes for sale in Cincinnati.

1. Rookwood Commons

Classic shopping strip with all the staples

2637 Edmonson Rd

Mon-Sat: 10am-9:30pm

Sun: 11am-8pm

If you’re looking to bang out your back to school shopping for multiple kids in one spot, Rookwood Commons is the place to go. But you better be ready to reserve an entire day for shopping here, because you’re going to want time to stop in to nearly every store there.

For any teens and tweens, there are plenty of places here to grab that perfect first day of school outfit. Bring your middle and high school-aged kids to any of the following stores:

●     Francesca’s

●     Charming Charlie

●     The Gap

●     Old Navy

●     Nordstrom Rack

There are also plenty of places to snag a perfect pair of sneakers or boots that will last for many seasons to come. If your kids are in need of some new shoes for the new year, you can bring them to DSW, Shoe Carnival, or Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI).

If you’re interested in starting the school year on a healthy note and filling lunch boxes with natural ingredients and healthy foods, you’re in luck. Rookwood has your go-to Whole Foods in Cincinnati.

Back to school season also comes with plenty of odds and ends to take care of, and you can get them all done here. Stop by Supercuts for the first day fresh cut, T-Mobile or AT&T to get the latest iPhone, and Bed Bath & Beyond for whatever else you may need for around the house.

If you want to end your back to school shopping with a celebratory dinner—whether you’re wishing them a successful school year or you’re just so ready for the kids to be out of the house—there’s no need to get back in the car and go somewhere else. With 16 different places to grab some grub at Rookwood, some highlights include First Watch and Rusty Bucket.

“Rookwood is one of my favourite places to shop in Cincinnati. There is a good selection of stores to choose from - Old Navy, DSW, Whole Foods, Pier 1, Joseph Beth, etc. Also plenty of eating choices- Five Guys and PF Chang being my favourite. Definitely a good spot to shop!” -TripAdvisor review

Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati OH
Image courtesy of Stores-Goods. Beyond this lovely facade,you’ll find an even more lovely array of stores to choose from for your back to school needs!

2. Kenwood Towne Centre

Traditional mall with anything you may need

7875 Montgomery Rd

Mon-Sat: 10am-9pm

Sun: 12-6pm

If you’re familiar with the Cincinnati area,than you’re likely familiar with Kenwood Towne Centre. But if you’re new to the area, this will be your designated shopping mall for all of your needs,especially this back to school season in Cincinnati.

This place has all of your mall staples, such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Express, and Dillard’s, in addition to some more upscale options like Michael Kors, Madewell, Kate Spade, Tiffany & Co., and Lilly Pulitzer.

There’s even a place for each of the things you didn’t put on your list but absolutely need. You might feel the need to step in L’Occitane, Oakley, Journeys, Apple, or Microsoft to tie up some back to school loose ends.

“Came here yesterday to shop around and look for something to eat. I'm surprised a mall like this has full occupancy which is usually hard to find. It's got an abundance of parking spaces. Everything about this mall is modern! It has a plethora of amazing stores and great variety of food stores. People are really friendly as well. The mall size isn't oversized which makes it easier to find stuff either.” -Yelp review
Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Cincinnati OH
Image courtesy of the Premium Outlets Website. Did someone say Michael Kors?!

3. Cincinnati Premium Outlets

Your designated outlet mall in Cincinnati


400 Premium Outlets Drive

Mon-Sat: 10am-9pm

Sun: 10am-7pm

Whether it’s for high school homecoming or parent teacher conferences, the new school year may bring about some special occasions that require you to look your best. If you travel nearly 30 miles north, you’ll find some awesome shopping in Cincinnati to score a few upscale items in at a decent price (at least compared to the price you would pay in the actual high-end store).

The Cincinnati Premium Outlets offer tons of high-end brands at amazing prices. If you need some athletic gear to last the whole year, you can swing by the Adidas and Nike Factory Stores, Asics, or Reebok.

But if you’re on the hunt for that killer homecoming look, there are stores in the Outlets to cater to that need as well.Grab a stellar dress or spiffy button down at Sperry, Polo Ralph Lauren, or Cole Haan.

Since they know you’ll be hungry after a full day of shopping, this place has the perfect food court on the main level for whatever you may be craving.

“This is a great place to stop if you're driving between Cincinnati and Dayton! It has all the usualplaces you would expect from an outlet - Carter's, The Gap, Reebok, Banana Republic, Yankee Candle and many more! It even had what was a surprise to me -a Lindt Chocolate Shop with so many flavors I'd never seen before.” -Yelp review

4. Findlay Market

Year-roundmarket with fresh, local ingredients

1801 Race St

Tues-Sat: 8am-6pm


If you want to start the new school year with healthy eating, be sure to stock up on lunchbox necessities at Findlay Market.Located in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, strolling through this adorable market is one of the most fun things to do in Cincinnati. Another added bonus, it’s the perfect way to have some fun-filled family time before the school year starts.

You’ll find plenty of healthy ingredients and yummy treats in this market. Everything is locally-sourced and super sustainable. And parents, be sure to grab an awesome brew or glass at one of the beer and wine vendors in the Market.

If you’re scheduling a visit to Findlay Market ahead of time, check their event calendar to see if there’s anything going on when you plan on visiting!

Findlay Market is so much more than a place to buy superior fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. Fresh food is always available from staples to the most exotic spices. The farmers who present their incredible produce and meats are all within a 150 mile radius.Weekends are like a street-fair with vendors selling everything from soaps to jewelry.” -Tripadvisor review

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