My friend and co-worker visits about twice per year from Scotland. Whenever she’s over, I do my best to make sure we have lots of fun things to do together. Neither of us are city-slickers so we try to stay out of San Francisco. This time, we drove up to Napa (the town, not the auto parts store) and did the Napa City Ghosts & Legends Walking Tour.
Price as tested: $25/person
Additional options: Dinner ($30/person) and frozen yogurt ($8/person)
Pros: Nice city, great guides, solid history, interesting introductory lesson in the paranormal
Cons: Local drunks, 2014 earthquake damaged many local buildings so there is much scaffolding
About a week ago, I started suggesting things for us to do. She adores Halloween and asked to do something spooky. I sent over suggestions - everything from expensive haunted houses to monster rock concerts but the thing that she reacted to was a “ghost walk”. So I bought us tickets (~25 dollars per person).
What It Is and What It Isn’t
She arrived yesterday and asked me what exactly it was - which is funny since she got excited about it weeks ago when I sent the link over. Apparently, she thought it was a walking tour with actors.
It’s a guided outdoor walking tour around the haunted (feel free to read that word in “quotes” if it makes you feel better) downtown Napa, CA by a couple of guides who have worked with shows on Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, etc. You can kind of call it “My First Ghost Adventure”.
Is It Silly?
Good question. At times, it’s lighthearted. There are lots of jokes (some rehearsed and most just because the two guides Devin and Ellen are a fantastic duo. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - a good tour guide can make anything interesting. In this case, they don’t have to stand alone as the material is a hit. Downtown Napa has a rich history that pairs well with the introductory theories of paranormal investigation. In short: No, it’s not silly - instead it’s quite engaging.
Are Ghosts Real?
This is up to you. This was the first tour I’ve ever done of this nature. Up until this tour, I felt like dowsing rods were a funny thing that people used to play a joke on their friends or pull one over on TV viewers who want to believe. Holding a set in your hands and having them react to every question you ask while you try desperately (and unsuccessfully) to hold them straight when a question is asked may change you mind. After completely mastering holding them straight, only to have them flip around like a carnival ride when a question is asked - I’m no longer sure what to think. Buyer beware - your mileage may vary.
So did anything... happen?
Lots of things happened. We walked, we joked, we learned a lot about the history of Napa (including about the damage to the historic buildings from the 2014 earthquake), tools were learned, and fun was had. There were two distinct areas that were used as “known ongoing activity” zones to demonstrate how paranormal communication works.
As far as those ghostly communications go, you should probably just go yourself. People probably should simply make up their own minds. Having said that, my friend (a skeptic of sorts) was none too pleased when what appeared to be a spirit of a known serial killer picked her out of the crowd of 20 people as someone that reminded him of one of his victims.
Is it a weird tour to do on sidewalks?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Not because the content is awkward but rather because Napa’s population on a Saturday night is about as predictably drunk and assholish as they get. We’re talking trust-fund-kids named Brent, Brent, and Brent hopping between bars. A group of people being lead by a couple in tour shirts draws attention - and words.
Despite how well known Napa is around the world, it’s still a relatively small town and I imagine most of the inebriated frat bros know all about the ghost tour.
Does it baby?
Would you recommend it?
I think there are a lot of tours that people should probably be open to trying. History, no matter how dark, should be retold. As an added bonus, it might change your mind. It also might not. I’d give it a solid “try”. It’s the same price as going to the movies, about the same length, and you can go grab dinner beforehand. In my opinion, skip the movies and do this once instead.