More than 60 retail shops, restaurants and galleries (including Studio Den Meiners, left) populate this once-forgotten manufacturing district south of downtown. The shopping is as diverse as the district's fans. Fine merchandise -- including Asian antiques, aromatic candles, kitchen accessories and locally designed clothes -- ranges from low-cost to high-dollar.
The highest concentration of shops is along Wyandotte and Baltimore between 17th and 19th streets, but those farther east are worth the trip. Keep your car close by; Crossroads is walkable, but the neighborhood has significant gaps between clusters of shops. Or, take the free trolley on the first Friday of each month, when many of the shops and galleries stay open late.
At Christopher Elbow Chocolates, each little sweet looks like a work of art (left), with swirling colors and delicate painted-on designs. "Wow, I hope they taste as good as they look," a shopper says. They do.
More eats: Try YJ's Snack Bar, a tiny and vibrant restaurant with an artsy, coffeehouse vibe. It offers meals and homemade cookies and brownies, plus live jazz on Sundays. At Bulldog, the drink menu features retro specialties, and Wednesdays are Martini Nights.
YJ's Snack Bar (816/472-5533)
Hammerpress, a letterpress and design studio (left), sells posters, art prints and more. Also plan to visit Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, the gallery that started the neighborhood's renaissance; Retro Inferno, which specializes in 20th century modern furnishings; Hudson Home, which has modern luxury furniture and accessories; and Webster House Antiques.
Retro Inferno 
Hudson Home 
Webster House 
Tomboy calls itself "the Midwest's own fashion design house." You can buy clothing off the rack, but if you don't see what you want, you can custom order just about anything from blue jeans to ball gowns. Most of Tomboy's collection, though, is sportswear and dresses. At left is an in-house designed shirt with metallic silk trim.
For even more specialized garments, try Birdies, which has designer ladies' lingerie and swimwear.
During your Crossroads visit, pay attention to history. Notice the buildings' garage doors, exposed brick, ductwork and trusses. Many renovators -- likely the shop or gallery owners -- left evidence of the building's former use. Curious? Ask and learn.
In the late 19th century, Grand Avenue boasted the city's first electric trolley car and stately homes of well-heeled citizens. F. Scott Fitzgerald caroused there in the 1920s. But vacant buildings and crime pocked the main 25-block stretch by 1960. To reverse the blight, entrepreneurs formed a volunteer association and started breathing life back into the neighborhood.
Today, more than 200 boutiques, coffeehouses, ice-cream parlors, restaurants and other businesses reside on and near Grand Avenue. Residents come here for fresh coffee, financial planning advice, doctors' appointments and church services; shoppers indulge in baked goods, upscale restaurants and unique specialty shops -- such as Garden of Eden (left), which sells custom-scented lotion, shampoo, conditioner and oils.
Garden of Eden 
At Victoria and Grand, a hub of stores and restaurants clusters at each corner. From there, shops and boutiques radiate east to downtown Saint Paul and stretch west to the Mississippi River, including the Red Balloon Bookshop (left).
Park for free along Grand Avenue or one block to the north along Summit Avenue. Free three-hour parking also is available at the northwest corner of Victoria Street and Grand Avenue, or pay at The Grand Place ramp on the southwest corner.
Red Balloon Bookshop 
Cooks of Crocus Hill (left) has gourmet culinary products as well as cooking classes. Refresh fatigued feet with a pedicure at Juut Salonspa, which features rosemary and mint lotions after an exfoliating scrub and hydrating massage. For the ultimate indulgence, Cafe Latte has turtle cake oozing with caramel and chocolate. The cafeteria-style upscale restaurant also serves soups, sandwiches, afternoon tea and a variety of breads. Get Minnesota's famous walleye at Tavern on Grand.
Cafe Latte 
Cooks of Crocus Hill 
Juut Salonspa 
Tavern on Grand 
Bibelot offers a variety of jewelry, stationery, gifts and home accessories, like these sparkling sun-catchers (left). Susan Metzger Fashion Designer sells women's apparel -- including uniquely tailored dresses -- in a Victorian home-turned-boutique. "I alter the outfit to flatter the figure, free of charge," owner Susan Metzger says. Artful Belongings has unusual gifts and home decor. Shü sells footwear from around the world.
The Bibelot Shops 
Artful Belongings 
The clothes are the latest cuts, and the gifts reflect the newest trends, yet there's a delightfully familiar feel to shopping in Hyde Park Square. Begun in 1896, the square is seven miles northeast of downtown Cincinnati. It has large homes, unique shops and creative restaurants offering French pastries, crab cakes and create-your-own pizzas. The neighborhood also is basking in $1.25 million in lighting and sidewalk improvements.
Hyde Park Square 
Poeme (left) has stylish stationery and gift items; Fancy This also features gifts. Khakis might be just the place to buy new slacks for the man in your life. English Traditions combines antiques with replica furniture and accessories.
When you get hungry, head to Oprah Winfrey's favorite ice-cream company, Graeter's, which scoops up seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie as well as the more traditional caramel, black cherry and others. At more than 60 years old, The Echo still draws crowds -- and local celebrities -- in search of all-day breakfast and cheap and fast comfort food. Cooks also fry up goetta, a special Cincinnati mixture of pin oats and sausage, any time of the day.
Fancy This (513/871-0844)
English Traditions 
The Echo 
Miller Gallery (left) has a wide variety of high-quality 2-D and 3-D art.
If you visit Hyde Park Square, note that maneuvering around this historical neighborhood can be tricky. Try the parking meters in front of the shops early or late in the day. (Be aware they have a one-hour time limit.) Avoid arriving during meal times -- the square fills with diners headed to the restaurants. Off-street parking is available on side streets, and a 65-space lot sits on Edwards Road. Thankfully, the shops in this neighborhood are clustered within walking distance once visitors snag parking spaces.
Miller Gallery 
Professionals come here for the ethnic eateries. College students come here for the pulsing nightlife and trendy boutiques, including Pitaya, which offers women urban clothes and accessories and its own line of jeans. But Broad Ripple Village isn't just for the coming-of-age, or for the dinner crowd. This neighborhood -- decorated by graffiti murals and known for its edgy approach to public art -- also includes high-end galleries and shops selling handmade apparel and gifts.
The Central Canal, which cuts through the district, first brought patrons here in the 1880s. The Monon Railroad (now a "rails to trails" park) rendered the canal obsolete; automobiles later returned the favor. In the 1970s, malls nearly left the area for dead, and it became a haven for artists, free spirits and partygoers. Today, its 15 square blocks are ideal for exploring on foot. Spicy aromas from Mexican, Thai and Indian restaurants cling to the breeze. Shops offer pottery, baby-blanket-soft sweaters, handmade hats and jewelry.
Broad Ripple Village 
The Corner Wine Bar feels like a French bistro with a menu to match. It serves un-fussy cuisine in a quiet dining room. Family-owned and -operated La Piedad offers spicy and delicious meals (the salsa alone is worth a stop). Filled with inviting love seats and booths, Broad Ripple Brewpub serves a brew-cheese crock with warm bread for dipping. Stop at the Scholar's Inn Bakehouse for pretty, petite pastries; loaves of artisanal breads; soups; sandwiches; and fresh coffee.
Corner Wine Bar 
La Piedad 
Broad Ripple Brewpub 
At Girly Chic Boutique (left), you can browse the eclectic variety: shabby-chic picture frames, AC/DC baby tees, handmade dresses and more. Other shopping finds, where you can buy antique-glass chandeliers, designer dog vests and lots more: Happy Trails Design Studio, Hardwicke's Pipe and Tobacco, Honeysuckle Home, Three Dog Bakery, Haus and Chelsea.
A shopping tip: This neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly, so park your car and prepare to explore on foot. Park for free across from the Broad Ripple Post Office, 6255 Carrollton Avenue. Otherwise, most of the parking in the village is metered and fills up quickly, especially at night, when people come for the many restaurants and clubs.
Before you leave, walk north on Monon Trail. It leads to a bridge over the White River, and the views are stunning.
Happy Trails Design Studio (317/255-5849)
Hardwicke's Pipe & Tobacco (317/257-5915)
Honeysuckle Home (317/202-4663)
Three Dog Bakery 
Monon Trail 
Girly Chic Boutique