I recently received an email from County Line Orchards - the real Apple Store, out near Kempton - saying the Gala apples were ripe, so over Labor Day weekend my husband and I headed for the rolling hills, woods and working farms of the western Lehigh Valley.
After buying our apples, we stopped by the Kempton station of the WK&S Railroad. There you can get an old-fashioned train ride on the "Hawk Mountain Line" (named for the nearby bird sanctuary) back through the hills to the village of Wanamaker, below the picturesque Donat's Peak in Western Lehigh County.
When our son was young he loved the WK&S, and I was pleased to see that it looks better than ever, the station freshly painted and the train filling up with happy families. One boy I saw reminded me of ours -- his eyes were gleaming with excitement as he looked over the train and cars. I'll bet he went home with a wooden train whistle from the gift shop or a railroad patch for his mom to sew onto his jacket.
I recommend a ride on the WK&S. The chugging of the train and its whistle at the intersections makes it seem like it's taking you back through time as you travel on the tracks. Add to that the changing leaves, a drive through beautiful countryside to get there, and some apples and cider to take home, and you may have a perfect family day you'll be talking about for years to come.