Hear ye, hear ye: it’s official, Out Travel the System fam – Pumpkin Spice Latte Season (PSL Season) is underway. What better way to mark it than by mapping out your route to check out fall foliage, head out on a quick road trip, or indulge in your favorite fall activities and dishes?
Listen in as host Nisreene Atassi chats with ‘Queen of Fall’ Steffy Degreff of Steffys Pros and Cons, and writer and content producer Andrea Romano. They share their thoughts on why fall is the best season, and how to thoroughly ‘PSL-ize’ your life, if you’re in the mood.
Put on your coziest chunky-knit sweater and wooly socks, and sit back to listen, PSL in hand – you’ll never believe how many ways there are to celebrate PSL Season.
How to mark PSL Season in Style with Steffy Degreff
Nisreene Atassi: So when we were scoping out the season, trying to decide all of the episodes that we wanted to record this time around, I wanted to make sure that we included a sort of fall episode. More importantly, I wanted to call it the Pumpkin Spice Latte episode, because I feel like there’s a real cultural shift that has happened over the last couple of years. Literally come September, it’s just a whole vibe that starts to roll out all because of this one, beautiful, delicious little drink. Now there’s just, whether you go to the stores or to Starbucks or on the internet, on Instagram, you are just absolutely surrounded by all things Pumpkin Spice Latte and fall. So I am so excited to actually get to do an entire episode where it’s literally just around how we travel the world for the love of Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’m Nisreene Atassi and this is Out Travel the System.
The leaves are crunching around your boots when you go for a walk these days and you probably have a cozy sweater on. These are the signs people, it’s officially Pumpkin Spice Latte season. Even though to be fair, that drink is coming out earlier and earlier every year. We are just going to assume that it’s always landing at the perfect crisp fall time. So we’re getting into the travel possibilities involved with Pumpkin Spice Latte season today with two very lovely guests. My first guest is Steffy Degreff. She is the queen of fall, both on her website steffysprosandcons. com as well as on Instagram, she is @steffy. Welcome to Out Travel the System fall queen, how are you?
Steffy Degreff: Thanks. I’m great. Feeling even better now that it’s fall.
Nisreene Atassi: Amazing. Also, here with us today is writer and content producer, Andrea Romano. Thank you for coming on the show, Andrea.
Andrea Romano: Very happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Nisreene Atassi: Steffy, let’s kick things off. Most people would say that we have to wait until September, October, to really properly mark PSL season and fall, but you’ve been posting fall content on your Instagram since August, are you just like, you just can’t, tell me about how you decide when to start like really going into fall mode?
Steffy Degreff: I would say it’s a mix of the two. For one, I obviously am a blogger, so I kind of have to keep up with what brands are putting on their shelves. It’s like, I follow them almost. They are just pushing the season earlier and earlier every year. Brands aside, I just love the fall. I feel like the season is just not long enough. I know that come Thanksgiving, it’s already Christmas mode. So I like to extend the season and make it feel like it’s even longer in my universe by putting things up. I mean, it wasn’t even mid August this year. It was beginning of August honestly.
Nisreene Atassi: I think everybody just loves fall so much that we accept it. Starbucks drops the Pumpkin Spice Latte when it’s like 90 degrees outside, and we’re all just jonesing for it.
Steffy Degreff: Yes.
Nisreene Atassi: You know what I mean? Like we are just absolutely ready to start consuming all of that fall content. So I get it. I get it. Why do you feel like you love fall so much?
Steffy Degreff: My love for fall really started when I was a little girl, as cheesy as that sounds I can remember. We moved to Florida when I was eight and I can remember the last walk that I took with my dad in the fall and it was in my aunt’s neighborhood and we are collecting leaves. I can remember as an eight year old feeling sad that I was leaving the fall. So I think that because I didn’t have the fall, from when I was eight, until I moved back to New York, it really deepened my love for it because I missed it so much. Now that I get to experience it with my own kids, I just dive head first and try to make up for lost time I guess.
Nisreene Atassi: That’s a really good point that I’ve never actually properly thought about, which was when I was living in the Middle East, we had two seasons – hot and hotter. I never got a chance to wear any of my fall clothing or anything like that. There was one time when we went back to Chicago and we went back in October and it was absolutely beautiful, just a quintessential week of perfect fall weather. You don’t really appreciate it until you don’t have it. So I get that and I feel like there’s probably a lot of people who live in this world, but you know, even in the U. S. who live in the south, for example, who probably don’t get to experience that sort of crisp fallness. That makes a lot of sense. Andrea, what about you, where does your love for fall really come from?
Andrea Romano: Growing up I really loved Halloween, and that back to school part of the year where you still have the holidays to look forward to. It starts to get very cool. I grew up in Texas and kind of all over the southwest and the western part of the United States. Very hot. Very happy for it. Just have a nice autumnal breeze come into town.
Nisreene Atassi: I love the word autumnal. How do you decide whether you want to say fall or autumn?
Steffy Degreff: I usually use the word fall just because I’m used to saying it, but I do feel like autumn is more romantic and it just makes it seem more of a fantasy versus the reality of what it is.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. So true. Well let’s talk about drinks because I feel like this entire episode in this entire country really just goes into full- on fall mode the second Starbucks drops Pumpkin Spice Latte for the year. They also have all these other ones now. There’s like butternut spice lattes out there. There’s a new Starbucks drink called the Apple Crisp Macchiato, which I haven’t tried yet. Are you a Pumpkin Spice Latte gal? Or are you willing to venture out or do you go apple cider? What’s your vibe?
Steffy Degreff: So I am through and through a pumpkin spice girl solely because I actually just love the taste of pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, everything pumpkin.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah.
Steffy Degreff: I’m not saying I wouldn’t try the apple one, but I haven’t done it yet. I have to get really sick of the pumpkin before I will venture onto something else.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah, because now you can get it in like a cold brew with that pumpkin spice, cold foam situation, they really just make it very accessible.
Steffy Degreff: Yeah, and you can make it at home. I actually just made pumpkin spice at myself yesterday and it keeps for a few weeks in the fridge. So if you want to add a little extra something to your coffee in the morning, it makes it very easy.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. I’ve actually been seeing a lot of TikTok videos of people making pumpkin cold foam that you can add to your coffee.
Steffy Degreff: I haven’t tried that yet.
Nisreene Atassi: It’s basically a tablespoon of pumpkin puree, whatever whipped dairy topping you want to do so whether it’s milk or cream or whatever. Then you add in a little bit of sweetener and some cinnamon and you froth it up and then you just pour that over your coffee.
Steffy Degreff: Yeah, that sounds amazing.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah, we should try it. Let’s try it. Andrea, what about you? What’s your sort of fall drink of choice?
Andrea Romano: I have always looked forward to apple cider, especially with some caramel with cream on top and a hot chocolate, but I guess hot chocolate starts to become more of a winter thing, a holiday thing.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. That makes sense. When we start talking about cideries and breweries, going apple picking, pumpkin patches, all of these are just like the ideal fall season activities. What else screams fall to you, Andrea?
Andrea Romano: Road trip season seems to be getting much longer. I think people are rediscovering the love of getting into the car and driving. That kind of feeds into wanting to go see leaves change, or wanting to go apple picking, but driving in the fall can be so Instagram worthy, number one, but also just restorative. You’ve got the crisp air and you’ve got all these different little towns you can go to. I live in New York. So there are so many towns like up in the Hudson Valley, all the way up to the Catskills, even close to Canada. Finding a bed and breakfast type of thing is definitely something that I would definitely associate with fall.
Nisreene Atassi: All right. So what’s funny is that we actually did a survey as well about what are people’s sort of favorite fall activities and those sort of Instagram worthy taking photos with amazing foliage was actually the number one pick for everybody. Going to a pumpkin patch, apple picking, and then visiting a corn maze. So Steffy, you’re a content creator. I’m guessing Instagram worthy activities probably also rank really high for you. Do you love all of these experiences? Are there any that you don’t like, are there any that I didn’t mention or that Andrea didn’t mention that you also love to do in the fall?
Steffy Degreff: So my number one favorite activity is going on a fall hike. I don’t think that that was mentioned. It kind of ties in with the road trip experience, but just finding an epic hike that has an amazing lookout and when you look over the top, all the trees below are red and orange, to me, there’s nothing that compares to that. I also love a good pumpkin patch. The thing that I would say ranks the lowest for me is probably apple picking only because I end up with so many apples and I’ll use them to bake a pie, but there’s always excess apples. So that’s why.
Nisreene Atassi: You’re like, how many apples am I going to pick? And you want to pick a lot because you’re there and maybe you drove, it depends on where you live, but if you live in a big city, you’re probably driving at least an hour to get to an apple orchard. You’re like, am I going to leave with only five apples? Absolutely not. I’m going to get like a full bushel or whatever that means, or like pounds, but then…
Steffy Degreff: You’re going all in and then you just have so many in your fridge and you’re like, I’m never going to finish all of these apples. I also think as a mom, there’s like such a balance between doing children’s activities and then doing adult activities, going to a cidery or a brewery. So sometimes I end up repeating fall activities twice where you have a day with your girlfriends and then you go back to the same spot with your kids and do it completely different.
Nisreene Atassi: We need to put a call out. So for everybody listening to the show, tag Steffy and I if you know of a brewery or a winery that also has an apple farm or a pumpkin patch or corn maze on its property, so that parents can achieve both. That is my call- out to all of the listeners. Okay. So Steffy, let’s go back to your favorite fall activity, hiking, which I love. What are some of the places that you like to travel to, or maybe road trip to, to do some of these fall hikes or do you prefer to sort of stay close to home?
Steffy Degreff: We have a house up in the Hudson Valley that has a ton of hikes nearby. So we like to go up there, but also we went about three years back to Letchworth State Park at the peak of fall, which is about six hours upstate from us. It was unreal. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. So we’re actually going back this year and going to go hike and just see all of the leaves and the foliage and hear that crunchy sound while we walk and bring both of our kids. We only had one kid last time we went, so we’re excited. It is a hefty drive, but the great part about the drive is just that you see beautiful foliage the whole way. So it’s almost like a mini fall tour, the whole drive up where you are stopping and taking pictures and it’s enjoyable.
Nisreene Atassi: All right. So, you know, Andrea, you actually wrote a whole article for Travel + Leisure about the best places to see fall foliage in the U. S. How do you go about actually finding these locations?
Andrea Romano: It’s kind of like going on a digital road trip. I would usually look for towns that had a lot of fall things happening, or they’re near things that are very fall- like. Sometimes there’s like a festival happening or it’s just kind of like a destination that’s particularly known for its colors. For example, the Maroon Bells in Colorado is well known for its aspen groves and they turn this beautiful, brilliant, bright yellow in fall. That’s kind of the perfect time to go leaf peeping, when those aspen trees start to turn from green to yellow.
Nisreene Atassi: I love the word leaf peeping.
Steffy Degreff: I know me too.
Nisreene Atassi: I don’t use that language when I talk normally, but then when I hear people say it, I think why don’t I talk like that? Why don’t I say leaf peeping? So great. Sometimes it’s about thinking beyond all the usual places for fall foliage.
Andrea Romano: I mean, there are the ones that you would definitely need to be on the list, like upstate Vermont, Hudson Valley, Massachusetts, basically the Eastern seaboard. When I was compiling this list of different places, I mean the desert, I lived in the desert for a number of years and it truly does have fall colors all year round. So there have to be places to see in Colorado it’s higher desert, but also parts of New Mexico. Then there’s of course the Pacific Northwest that’s where there are so many gorgeous trees to look out at.
Nisreene Atassi: So Steffy, it sounds like you actually live in the fall foliage mecca of the United States. Do you ever consider traveling outside of the East Coast to go in and do some leaf peeping as they say?
Steffy Degreff: I try to really not leave the northeast around the fall time of year, just because it is sort of the place to be. The only place that I’ve really considered traveling to is Canada, because I follow a few bloggers that are up there and it looks even more epic almost, and they have fall before us.
Nisreene Atassi: Oh, they do.
Steffy Degreff: Yeah. So I’ve thought of going August early September up to Canada, just so that I could really truly get the full foliage map as it starts to change, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
Nisreene Atassi: You know what? That’s a really interesting tactic. It’s like, basically you’re going to go north at the very beginning of fall season. Then you come back down south a little bit. So you basically extend your fall foliage timeframe and you really maximize it. I think that’s a great way to do it, especially for someone like you. You’re a content creator, fall is your jam. You can just make the most out of it, really extend it. Love that
Steffy Degreff: For sure. One year I went to Texas late into October and got to hit their peak season. I was like, wow, I can’t believe there’s still leaves on the trees. It was like they came back to life. It was great.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah, that’s fun. You know what? That’s the real fall enthusiast, just traveling the world in search of fall. I’ve been taking some really avid notes as we speak, but you don’t have to. We will link to both Andrea’s articles and Steffy’s content all in our show notes. So we will have everything there for you. Steffy, I want to get more insight from you on leaf peeping options when we come back. So stick around PSL season lovers, we will be right back.
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Nisreene Atassi: We are back with writer and content creator, Andrea Romano. We also have Steffy Degreff of the @ steffy account on Instagram, where she shares her love of fall with all of her followers. Okay. I wanted to get back into destinations that scream fall by playing a clip from our only in Boston episode with guests, Kate Weiser and Paul Wahlberg. Here we go.
Kate Weiser: The fall in Boston is one of my all- time favorites and in New England for that too, the leaves turn bright orange, and there’s these beautiful streets throughout Back Bay that just blossom into these yellows and golds and the leaves crunch under your feet while you walk down and see the brownstones. It’s just this really magical fantasy, like experience.
Paul Wahlberg: Kind of that northwest direction on route 2. It is just spectacular during foliage. I mean just the colors. There’s a lot of great, beautiful sites in Boston.
Nisreene Atassi: Steffy, have you been to the Boston and New England area for leaf peeping?
Steffy Degreff: I haven’t actually. The honest truth is just having two kids, we are so in our routines. So I have to take fall in the convenient doses that I can get it, but once they’re older and I have more free time, I will definitely try to experience it in DC and Boston and all of the bigger cities. But for right now, I just try to do what works best with our family.
Nisreene Atassi: Sure. We talked a little bit about things we tend to drink in the fall. So Andrea, I want to talk a little bit about how we change what we’re eating in the fall to.
Andrea Romano: Yeah, for sure. I would say that any baked good becomes very important during this season. In New York state, the farms and usually apple orchards, they do the apple cider donuts. Those are so popular here. It’s part of the whole apple picking experience and pies and apple pie, or a cherry pie. This is the beginning of winter foods, anything that’s cheese based, sitting indoors and making a cheese plate. That’s something that I really like doing. Winter stews, fall stews, using up summer and early fall produce is definitely something that I think is very indicative of the season.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. I love that. Steffy. What about you? When you do your six hour road trip upstate, are there quintessential things that you like to eat in the fall? Are there any roadside stands or anything like that? That just scream fall food to you?
Steffy Degreff: Definitely cider donuts. I eat way too many of those in the fall. Also corn. There’s corn stands at most pumpkin patches and roasted corn is just so great on a crisp day. It’s hot in your hand. So good. At home, I love to bake pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread. We make pumpkin soup. Anything that has pumpkin.
Nisreene Atassi: Andrea, I feel like you want to chime in here.
Andrea Romano: Definitely. Anywhere you go in the fall, if there’s a tart or a galette on the menu, get it. You won’t regret it. It’s like fancier pie.
Nisreene Atassi: I love a good tart for sure. All right, Andrea, is there any where you left off your list in your article that maybe has a nice Halloween touch to it?
Andrea Romano: Estes Park. I don’t think I put on the list. That’s where the Stanley Hotel is and you can go on the haunted tour, but also it’s up in the mountains and it’s a little more accessible for those who don’t live there to get to. There’s a shuttle from Denver International Airport, or you can drive up there, but it’s not so deep in the mountains that it’s like hours and hours of winding roads. Yeah, Estes Park is such a beautiful place to go. Adorable little town. There are a number of wonderful little hotels, including the Stanley that are kind of from that late Victorian era where people would move up there to get well. Take in the mountain air. The Stanley Hotel is named for the guy who invented the Stanley steamer. I believe he moved up there after he had a very bad bout of tuberculosis and he decided to kind of fund this hotel and resort.
Nisreene Atassi: Steffy, are you a big Halloween person or do you feel like that cuts off your fall vibe too soon? How do you feel about Halloween? I feel you’re obviously the hostess with the mostest. So where does Falloween, did you hear what I just said, Falloween?
Steffy Degreff: Falloween, I love it.
Nisreene Atassi: Oh my Gosh. That’s it. We’ve just climbed…
Steffy Degreff: That should be the unofficial name of Halloween.
Nisreene Atassi: Oh my God. Totally. I feel like that’s such a vibe. How do you enjoy Falloween ?
Steffy Degreff: I’m a huge Halloween lover also. It ties into the fall, starting in September, late September. I start trying on a bunch of costumes. I shoot probably 11 costumes throughout the whole season. Some of them are couples’ costumes. Some are family costumes and I just love it. I don’t particularly love scary movies.
Nisreene Atassi: I hate them. I hate all of them. Yeah.
Steffy Degreff: Some of them I like. I think there’s something to be said about the week of Halloween, just like forcing yourself to watch classics, but I don’t really love to be scared. I’ve definitely tried those off the grid type of haunted houses where they can grab you and you sign a waiver that it’s okay and it’s dark and there’s strobe lights and it’s just creepy. It’s not for me. I will never go back to one of those.
Nisreene Atassi: Where is the scariest one that you’ve ever been to?
Steffy Degreff: Somewhere in Long Island, near Farmingdale. It’s in the middle of the island on a dark quiet road, just in a completely random location. It’s an abandoned house and never again.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. You are definitely going to get murdered there. Perfect spot.
Steffy Degreff: I know that’s how I felt too. I was like, why did I sign up for this? It is part of it. I think it’s part of the season to just enjoy spooky things. There’s also a place in Manhattan that claims to be haunted. I went with a brand. They did not tell me ahead of time that we were doing a haunted tour.
Nisreene Atassi: Really?
Steffy Degreff: Yes, I did not know. So I walk in and they’re like, okay, we’re going to take away your phone. You’re just going to walk through this tour. It’s basically a guided audio tour where they tell you all about the history of this house, which is supposedly extremely haunted. People have seen ghosts inside of it. It used to be a museum and just creepy stuff. You’re in there, in the dark, just hoping you don’t see a ghost or I think some people are hoping they do see a ghost, but that is another completely creepy Halloween experience.
Nisreene Atassi: Oh my goodness. That’s not for me. You know what I mean? I’m just watching Hocus Pocus and that’s it.
Steffy Degreff: Yeah.
Nisreene Atassi: Like Hocus Pocus on repeat and then just go straight into Christmas movies.
Steffy Degreff: Same. I’m all Peanuts. The Great Pumpkin.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. That’s so nice.
Steffy Degreff: That’s like, that’s the extent for me of spooky.
Nisreene Atassi: No. I agree. That’s a good one. Steffy. If there were a debate and you were arguing that PSL season is the best time of year. What would your closing arguments be?
Steffy Degreff: So food aside, leaf peeping aside. For me, the main reason why people should just fall in love with the fall season is the temperature. It is just so perfect. You can put on jeans, you could wear a sweater. You’re not sweating, but you’re not cold. It’s just, if you want to exist in a perfect state, fall is your season.
Nisreene Atassi: Sweater weather.
Steffy Degreff: Yes. There’s something about it that is just the best. It’s unbeatable fun.
Nisreene Atassi: Find me someone who doesn’t love sweater weather. I dare you. Come at me people. At me if you don’t like it, I want to hear your argument.
Steffy Degreff: Yeah, me too.
Nisreene Atassi: Alright. Well, I think my list of fall activities and destinations is pretty jam packed with amazing Pumpkin Spice Latte season goodness. So I feel like we are great to wrap up here and I’m so thankful for both of my amazing guests. Steffy, thank you so much for being on the show with us today.
Steffy Degreff: Thanks for having me. This was awesome.
Nisreene Atassi: All right. Steffy Degreff writes at steffysprosandcons.com. Check out her Instagram feed @steffy for fall inspiration. Of course thank you to writer and content creator, Andrea Romano. Thanks Andrea for coming on the show.
Andrea Romano: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Nisreene Atassi: I’m Nisreene Atassi and this is Out Travel the System, brought to you by Expedia. Join us next time as we wrap up our only in series with this Ladygang leader.
Becca Tobin: Hi there. It’s Becca Tobin, actress and host of the Ladygang podcast. Tune into the next episode of Out Travel the System where we talk all about Austin, Texas.
Nisreene Atassi: Until then, happy travels.
Show links: Expedia // Expedia Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook // Steffy’s links: steffysprosandcons.com, Instagram @Steffy // Andrea’s link: 21 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States