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The Best Ways to Avoid Pumpkin Spice This Fall

Larch on with these tips for enjoying fall flavours in the Bow Valley .
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Baker Creek Mountain Resort

The fall brings us many things: cool breezes, beautiful larch leaves, Thanksgiving… and perhaps the most controversial thing of all, pumpkin spice.

Love it or loathe it, you cannot escape it even if you avoid the major coffee chains. Just a few places where pumpkin spice has shown up over the years include Jell-O, beer, perfume, candles, stickers and assorted scratch-n’ sniff paraphernalia. This has gone too far!

If you’re anything like me, fall is much less about jumping into a pile of leaves while wearing plaid and having other such stock photo moments. It’s more about the larch hikes and Halloween vibes. The weird, the wild, and above all – avoiding pumpkin spice like the plague, especially when we have an actual plague to deal with. Over the years I’ve gotten really good at giving pumpkin spice the slip. Today, I’m sharing my tips. 

Avoid pumpkin spice at the coffee shop: 

This is, far and away, the hardest one. Start by driving past the major chains. They are contractually obligated to spray you down with the scent of pumpkin spice if you are in a three-metre radius. You can still feel “fall y’all” with Chai or Mocha at local coffee shops who don’t do the pumpkin – like the White Bark in Banff, Eclipse and Bicycle Cafe in Canmore.

If you are going somewhere that does pumpkin, like our buddies at Starbucks in Canmore, you can always get an “Apple Crisp” flavour or do a pumpkin-free free dash. Take a few moments in your car to prepare and put on your mask. Okay, now run! Dash through the door, avoid looking closely at the menu, blurt out “Americano, milk, two sugar,” and put your hand over your eyes. When the drink is thrust into your free hand, back out slowly with your eyes on the floor. 

Avoid pumpkin spice when baking and cooking: 

As the summer winds down, visit Banff Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays one last time and Canmore’s Mountain Market on Thursdays. Stock up on the essentials: squash, zucchini, apples, etc. Now go to the grocery store. Buy premium brand liquid vanilla. Go home and don’t emerge for two months.

With all the restrictions, this is easier to do than ever. You have everything you need to make both sweet and savoury fall dishes without a hint of pumpkin spice. The kicker is, the vanilla is so overpriced you won’t want to flavour your baking with anything else. You’ll want your money’s worth.

Avoid pumpkin spice at Thanksgiving:

If you volunteer to bring the dessert, you can bring whatever you like, right? Have you ever had a caramel/apple/bourbon pie? One taste and pumpkin pie gets the old heave ho for life.

Not a baker? OK. so you can skip step two on this list and check out Le Fournil or Kake by Darci and get a truly decadent desert that will make everyone forget that pumpkin spice was ever a thing. Although JK Bakery will have pumpkin pies and other Thanksgiving specials – they will also have their famous strawberry rhubarb pie. 

Become a recluse:

Baker Creek Mountain Resort . By James Hague


From your co-workers sipping a pumpkin spice latte on the Zoom meeting to even Cheerios getting in on the action, it’s very hard to avoid pumpkin spice. You may have to become a recluse, at least for a few weeks. Thankfully that’s easy to do.

With a plethora of amazing cabins and lodges to stay at like Baker Creek Lodge and Mount Engadine Lodge, you can escape the everyday and spend your mornings sipping spruce tip tea while you walk through the golden larches. 

OK, the truth is, fall is about liking what you like and embracing the season, even if it includes pumpkin spice. I, for one, am going to choose the last option, but whether I’ll be waving to you from the cabin yonder, or if you choose to immerse yourself in pumpkin spice this fall, everyone here at 51° hopes you have an amazing fall and that you check out your local makers, producers, retailers, and Farmer’s Markets this season.