10 ways to enjoy Fall without a Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand

Illustration by Pernia Jamshed.

For some, autumn comes when the leaves start to change colour. For others, it’s when they swap out their shorts and T-shirts for cozy sweaters and scarves. But for a fraction of the population, fall begins when the first Pumpkin Spice Latte is sold.

With its early beginnings in 2003, Starbucks experimentally created and began to sell its now infamous seasonal drink. A latte doused in pumpkin syrup and garnished with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices, the Pumpkin Spice Latte perfectly embodies your mother’s homemade pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner (give or take a few espresso shots).

It joins the barista’s roster on Sept. 1, signaling the season’s change from summer to fall — and people go crazy for it. There is a massive hype surrounding the drink’s annual release, but in spite of that, the taste of the beverage is mildly controversial. Regardless of whether or not you like it, one thing is evident: the Pumpkin Spice Latte has become a de facto mascot for the season of fall.

However, waiting in line at Starbucks is not the only way to spend your time during the season of sweaters. Granted, we are students, and we rely on that much-craved caffeine, especially during midterms. But this season goes by quickly; if you blink, you might miss it, and before you know it there will be snow falling down.

So, here is a compilation of 10 ways you can enjoy the ever-romantic season of autumn, without having your nose buried in your books and a Pumpkin Spice Latte in your hand.

1. Bake something

Warm drinks and cozy knitwear go hand in hand with baking. Just imagine the smell of fresh cookies or an apple pie.


2. Look for white squirrels at Trinity Bellwoods

Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West is always bustling with people of all sorts, making it a pretty happening place to be. Unique to this park are the distinct white squirrels that can very rarely be spotted. Grab your pals and head to the park to see who can be lucky enough to find one first.

And if you’re already on Queen West, you should also check out the many shops and cafes in the neighbourhood.


3. Pick up a hobby

Autumn is a great time to nurture your interests. Whether you like to knit, play the flute, collect stamps, play video games or try things that are completely new, my advice would be to take advantage of the weather before it gets too cold. Try to find a hobby you can take outdoors, like birdwatching, photography or hiking.


4. Take a trip to an orchard or pumpkin patch

Depending on where you live, you might need access to a car for a mini road trip to an orchard or pumpkin patch. There are several that are not too far from Toronto, like Albion Orchards for apple picking, Reesor’s Farm Market for its pumpkin patch or Brooks Farms for various fall activities. A visit to the farm can make for the perfect date, whether it’s with friends, family or your significant other. With all the activities, scenery and fresh food, you’ll always have plenty to do.


5. Stroll through High Park

If you are unable to drive anywhere, High Park is a sprawling, conveniently accessible city park on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. You can easily spend an entire afternoon walking through the idyllic setting that could easily be confused for a Group of Seven painting. During your stroll, you might even stumble upon the High Park Zoo or famous off-leash dog park.


6. Go vintage shopping

Whether you’re looking for an antique piece of furniture or a bulky vintage knit sweater, hunting through knick-knacks and treasures is a great way to spend time in autumn. Classic vintage stores like Black Market on Queen Street West or the usual thrift shops in the Kensington Market area might be of interest.


7. Discover a new Toronto neighbourhood

What makes Toronto special is each of its unique neighbourhoods, which are constantly developing and changing, always giving us something new to discover. Go explore a part of town you’ve never been to before — maybe Parkdale, Roncesvalles or the up-and-coming Queen Street East?


8. Go east.

Between Cabbagetown, Riverdale Farms and Evergreen Brickworks, there is no shortage of activity in Toronto’s eastern end.

A charming neighbourhood with beautiful Victorian brick houses, Cabbagetown’s quirky name comes from the cabbages Irish immigrants grew in their yards after moving to the city in the late 1840s.

Nearby, Riverdale Farms is a quaint and enjoyable city farm with a modest petting zoo and a picturesque view of the Toronto skyline.

Evergreen Brickworks is Canada’s first large-scale community environmental centre. In this creative space, you can find farmers markets, gardens, artwork, innovative exhibitions, workshops and lots and lots of greenery.


9. Queen’s Park

Not to make you stray too far from Ryerson’s campus, but Queen’s Park near the University of Toronto feels a little bit like Hogwarts, which is even more beautiful in the fall. Come here with a good book on a sunny day and lay in the grass for a while, enjoying the perfect fall weather.


10. Distillery District

Toronto’s historic Distillery District, once home to the Gooderham and Worts whiskey distillery, is teeming with art galleries, theatres, hip restaurants, independent designers and local shops. It’s also one of the only pedestrian-exclusive areas in the city and is remarkably photogenic, with stunning red-brick buildings and cobblestones underfoot.


Special mention: Walk the length of King Street

King Street is a long and incredibly scenic street. If you take a day to walk along it, you’ll be surprised at how much you will discover. From one end to the other, you’ll find so much diversity. You might also find the most delicious chocolate chip cookie in town at Portland Variety.