Napa Walking Tours

What’s a Walkabout Anyway?

Many people have asked, and we have listened. What does a walkabout mean? The answer is simple…kind of.

First, we wanted a name that truly represented our unique experiences. While we conduct guided walking tours, we aim to make it more than just a tour of facts and tastings. Our experiences are about exploring and discovering things that makes a destination unique. It is about truly getting to know a community and what it is like to be apart of it.

Aussies enjoying wine

Second, we wanted to recognize the diversity in Napa. As you will learn in this article, the word walkabout originated in Australia. And one thing you should know about California wine country, there are plenty of Australians. Apparently, where there’s wine there will be Aussies.

And finally, our walkabouts don’t follow a route you will find on a map. Our walking paths are something only a local would know. And while our tours are carefully organized, simply walking about is what we want it to feel like for our guests.

Original Walkabout

So where did the term walkabout originally start? As mentioned above, the term originated in Australia. The term walkabout evolved to describe the “temporary mobility” of a nomadic indigenous Australian. “Temporary mobility” is a nomadic lifestyle that does not establish a permanent residence and includes a significant amount of movement for religious observance.

Aboriginal Walkabout

Young Indigenous adults have the highest mobility rate of all age groups in Australia. A walkabout is their rite of passage during which indigenous males undergo a journey during adolescence. This journey meant a person would live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months to make the spiritual and traditional transition into manhood.

Although this is the origin of the term walkabout, as with many things, the term has taken on to mean a variety of things.

Royal Walkabout

One of the most popular uses of the term “walkabout” is by British Royals. Their version is when members of the royal family meet well-wishers gathered on the street. In earlier tours, viewers would only be able to catch a glimpse of the royals when they drove by in cars. But that changed during the Queen’s tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1970.

Royal Walkabout

It was during this trip that the Queen decided to personally greet royal watchers. She wanted to say hello to the crowds, and the walkabout was born. The new activity allowed royals to meet a greater number of people, not just officials and dignitaries.

Now, well-wishers can actually get handshakes and have short conversations with members of the royal family. And at this point, almost every public royal engagement involves a “walkabout”.

Urban Legend Walkabout

Since the term first originated, it has taking on a variety of meanings. And according to Urban dictionary here are just a few of the most popular.

A walkabout can be a spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one’s choosing in an effort to satisfy one’s itchy feet. Or it can be a trek that has no goal other than admiring nature, and the personal satisfaction of walking around the middle of nowhere and making it home alive.

And one definition that is gaining more popularity is the highly selective alternative program for college bound high school seniors. The program consists of several challenge areas to teach students to love learning and help them to make it in the real world.

Paper Napan Walkabout

So what do we mean by Paper Napan Walkabouts? First, let’s breakdown Paper Napan. This term is used to describe a non-native local. Why that? Well first, people from Napa are called Napans. And second, residents up valley have been known to call Napans “Napkins”. And rather than taking offence, locals have taken this and embraced the term. In addition, urban legend has it that natives refer to themselves as linens and non natives as paper. Since our mission is to create a local experience for our guests, you will be an honorary Paper Napan for the day.

Paper Napan Walkabouts

What do we mean by walkabout? As mentioned above, we wanted something that represents our unique experience. This is more than a tour about facts of a destination. It’s more than tasting wine and beer and seeing unique art. Our goal is to immerse our guests in the local culture and make you feel closer to the community. And there is no better way to do this than walking around with a local with great relationships around town.

Overall, Paper Napan Walkabouts believes that the character of a community is what truly makes each destination unique. And we have created an experience that highlights the soul of Napa through art, wine, beer, walking, and really cool locals at each stop.

RAD Napa

RAD Napa, Right Now

RAD Napa tells a story about Napa without saying a word. What is RAD Napa? It is short for the Rail Arts District and is Napa Valley’s first dedicated art district. It’s transforming a semi-industrial stretch of the city into a contemporary cultural corridor.

This project started when citizens, business leaders, city officials and artists came together to make change. Knowing the positive effect street art can have on a community, this group wanted to celebrate this art form and create something totally unique and truly Napan.    

For years there has been rise in street art across the globe. And one of the most significant effects of this rise is the change in the public’s perception. Street art has not always been clearly defined but has become an accepted art form and increasingly embraced by the general public.

In addition to being an increasingly accepted art form, the rise in street art is also changing communities. More and more cities are adding graffiti to their plain stucco walls. This art pumps life and pride into a community. And by taking art to the streets, communities can tell their stories in a unique way.

Street art is most common in cities where it transforms far from scenic buildings into works of art. But it can also transform the country side with projects like the Remote Silo Art trail where painted silos offer a unique Australian road trip.

Whether in an urban area or country town, the positive effects street art can have on a community are huge. Knowing these positive effects, Napa has fully embraced this art form and is well on the way to creating a world-renowned cultural corridor.

RAD Napa’s Inspiration

The idea for RAD Napa started when the Napa Vine Trail Arts, Culture and Education committee wanted to improve the Vine Trail’s user experience. After partnering with the Napa Valley Wine Train, the Rail Arts District was formally launched in January 2017.

What was the inspiration behind this idea? There are really three destinations that inspired RAD Napa. First is the Wynwood Walls Miami. The second is the SODO Track in Seattle. And finally, the High Line in New York City.

Wynwood Walls

Known as one of Miami’s most happening districts, Wynwood Walls in Miami is an outdoor museum showcasing large-scale works by some of the world’s best-known street artists. In addition, the surrounding streets have converted warehouses into craft breweries and funky art galleries. The once forgotten industrial area of Wynwood, has became one of the world’s largest outdoor street museum. It now attracts up to 15,000 people per day.

The SODO Track has transformed a two-mile transit corridor in Seattle into an imaginative raceway. This urban art gallery is the first to commission over 60 artists from 20 countries to explore one theme, and paint side-by-side. Over three summers, street artist from all over the world produced over 50 murals exploring motion, speed and progress. Their diverse backgrounds come together to connect the local to global in one creative experiment.

The High Line in New York City is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. Saved from demolition by neighborhood residents, the High Line is a public space where you can view art, walk through gardens, experience a performance, and savor delicious food. The High Line is now one, continuous, 1.45-mile-long greenway featuring 500+ species of plants and trees and home to world-class artwork.

RAD Napa’s Vision

The vision is to see a far-from-scenic route in Napa pulse with new energy, awe-inspiring sights, thriving businesses and meaningful dialogue. With plenty of inspiration to draw from, RAD Napa plans to create a two-mile long outdoor art gallery where the Napa Valley Vine Trail and Napa Valley Wine Train meet.

RAD Napa will eventually include over 130 art installations. In addition, there will be urban greenscapes and parks to create outdoor spaces for people to gather, appreciate art and learn about local terroir. As seen in other cities, RAD Napa believes when art becomes part of the fabric of a community, every citizen has the opportunity to see new possibilities and create a better future for all.

RAD Napa Today

With the first installation created in 2017, there are currently 10 murals and 12 railroad utility box wraps. Working with an agency out of Los Angeles, ThinkSpace, RAD Napa has been able to curate world renowned street artists. The installations are part of a growing group of local and internationally recognized artists.

“Knocking on Heaven’s Door”

The first mural added to the district is called “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by artists Natalia Rak and Bezt. This gorgeous mural is their first collaborative effort on the same wall. The piece is about finding beauty and never giving up hope, even when you may feel lost. The artists captured a unique glow that is sure to ignite the imagination of those who see it.


Shortly after the first mural, Felipe Pantone created the second installation. “Chromadynamica” is a vivid mural featuring a geometric wave pattern. This vibrant work of art is meant to change based on the observer’s point of view. It is a dynamic experience for those who were already in movement inside the Napa Valley Wine Train.

And these first two amazing murals were just the start. Since then, there have been eight additional murals added. These murals range from tributes to the fire fighters of the 2017 wildfires to depictions of red cabbage of the gardens at CIA Copia. Each tells a story of how the artist interprets Napa’s culture.

In addition to the murals, RAD Napa also created a Utility Box Project. Local and regional artists submitted their ideas for art “wraps” for the railroad signal boxes. 12 artists were selected, and their work is currently displayed on boxes along the Vine Trail between California Blvd. and the Wine Train Depot.

RAD Napa’s Future

As RAD Napa continues to grow, it will continue to bring in top talent to create a world-renowned cultural corridor. The next round of installations are planned for April 2019. At that point, there will be four additional murals added to the Napa Valley Vine Trail.

In addition, RAD Napa plans to develop urban greenscapes and parks. This includes edible gardens, pollinator habitats, greenbelt features with native plants and other verdant spaces for the community to gather.

RAD Napa Experience

Now that you know about RAD Napa, you probably want to know how to view the art. There are a few ways to experience this new cultural corridor.

First, you can experience the artwork while riding on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Here, customers can enjoy the view as they start their journey up valley on the train.

Paper Napan Walkabouts

Second, you can join Paper Napan Walkabouts to experience the art district. On this unique guided walking tour, guests will get insights about the artwork beyond what you can read about. As well as indulge in world class wine and craft beer at neighborhood gems.

You can also view the artwork at your own pace. Guests can walk, run, or bike along the Vine Trail to experience the cultural corridor on their own.

However you experience RAD Napa, you are sure to enjoy this emerging art district and learn a thing or two about Napa’s culture.

Napa Art: It’s for all of us

When you hear Napa Art, what image comes to mind? Maybe you are looking at a rare Picasso in a large chateau high above the valley? While that does exist and is amazing (we hear), there is also another side of Napa. One that is perhaps a little more accessible and relatable to the rest of us.

Napa’s diversity is one of the of the great things about the city. Sitting at the base of the valley, Napa draws a community ranging in backgrounds and interests. And the dedication to public art is one of the things that ties the community together.

Napa has a long history of citizens and community leaders coming together to support the arts. And this continues today with a large public arts program led by Arts Council Napa Valley. The projects they have created tell a great story about the community and what it’s about.

Nothing paints a better picture of what a city is like than the public art around it….literally.

Who started all this

As much as Robert Mondavi deserves credit for revolutionizing Napa’s wine industry, Margrit Mondavi deserves credit for transforming the valley into a cultural destination. As the Vice President of Cultural Affairs at Robert Mondavi Winery, she created an artistic hub in the valley. Considered Napa Valley’s Grande Dame, her support for the arts lives on. 

Margrit Mondavi

Renowned for amazing wine, Robert Mondavi Winery is also famous for it’s robust art collection and their “Artist in Residences” exhibit. In addition to the artwork, it also has a Summer Music Festival that has included artist like Ben Harper and Brandi Carlile. As a fan of the culinary arts, Margrit also opened the Great Chefs Cooking School that hosted Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud and — most notably — Julia Child….a Mondavi lifelong friend.

In addition to the winery, she also had a strong commitment to the community. As a lifelong philanthropist, she was a strong supporter of arts in the schools. And one of her legacies is the Oxbow School in Napa. This art institute is a single semester arts school for high school juniors and seniors. The school trains students in painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and digital media while also satisfying high school graduation requirements.

As you can imagine, this level of support for art in the schools has a large effect on the community as a whole. From simple appreciation, to transforming students into professional artist, the support Margrit Mondavi gave to students had a lasting impact on the city.

What Can Napa Show Me Now

The answer is lots! As community leaders, citizens, and businesses continue to support the arts, there will continue to be plenty to see around the city. From permanent exhibits to annual events, Napa continuously has interesting things to see and experience.

How robust is the Napa public art scene? Here are a few projects around the city that you will  definitively want to put in your 2019 calendar.  

RAD Napa

RAD Napa, short for Rail Arts District, is an art movement transforming a semi-industrial stretch in the city. The city was inspired to create a world renowned cultural corridor after seeing the power of public art in places like the Wynwood Walls in Miami or the SODO Track in Seattle.

RAD Napa

This project started when the members of the Napa Vine Trail Arts, Culture and Education committee wanted to improve the Vine Trail’s user experience. After partnering with the Napa Valley Wine Train, the Rail Arts District was formally launched in January 2017.

The vision for RAD Napa is to bring to life a far from scenic area by creating a dedicated art district. This art district will be a 2-mile outdoor gallery with over 130 art installations.

From murals to sculptures and more, RAD Napa’s installations are part of a growing group of local and internationally recognized artists. With the first installation created in 2017, there are already 10 murals and 12 railroad utility box wraps in this emerging district.

RAD Napa

The murals are converting cinder block buildings into works of art. Working with ThinkSpace, RAD Napa has already curated world renowned street artists like Fintan McGee and Felipe Panton. The district now has 10 murals with 4 more planned for April 2019.

In addition to the murals, RAD also has a Utility Box Project. Local and regional artists submitted their ideas for art “wraps” for the railroad signal boxes. 12 artists were selected, and their work is currently displayed on boxes along the Vine Trail between California Blvd. and the Wine Train Depot.

As RAD Napa continues to grow, it will continue to bring in top talent to create a world-renowned cultural corridor.

Napa Artwalk

In addition to the amazing street art of RAD Napa, there is also Napa’s Artwalk. This project launched in 2010 and is still going strong today. The Artwalk is a rotating, temporary, outdoor sculpture exhibition throughout downtown Napa. 

Napa Art Walk

The Napa Artwalk is designed to enhance the public environment and promote the enjoyment of public art. This project is a collaborative effort by the city of Napa and the Arts Council Napa Valley. Together, they select regional artists to exhibit their art in downtown Napa on a temporary basis.

The current theme for the fifth Napa Artwalk exhibition is “Shifting Perspective”. This exhibit runs from 2017-2019 and features ten sculptures from artists from 4 western states. Each piece demonstrates the power of perspective and how art can change depending upon how, when, and where it is viewed. 

You can stroll around downtown to check out the exhibits and also listen to the Napa Artwalk audio tour. This audio can be found on the free smartphone app, Otocast. Using your smartphone, download Otocast through the Apple Store or Google Play and look up “Napa Artwalk “. Once downloaded, you can select which sculpture you’d like to hear about…most were recorded by the artists themselves.

Napa Lighted Art Festival: Art After Dark

The Napa Lighted Art Festival is a celebration of creative arts and technology where light becomes art. The festival supports innovative techniques using light and light technologies as a growing art medium. The 2019 festival will run from January 12th-20th and will include several events.

Napa Lighted Art Festival

First, ten to fifteen original art works will be installed throughout downtown Napa and the Oxbow District. Artwork will include Light art, Video art, 3D video mapping projections and projects that use technology or interactivity.  The artwork is created around the core concepts of: Innovative, Contemporary, Uplifting, Inspiring and Imaginative.

In addition, everyone can participate in the Lantern Parade. On January 18th, the parade will start (6:30PM) and finish at Veteran’s Park. It will weave through the various art installations in downtown Napa while walking to live drumbeat by the amazing Cosmos Percussion Ensemble. All ages are encouraged to participated and create a lantern. This is a perfect event be a part of this community’s art celebration. 

Not able to walk in the parade, but still want to be apart of the art celebration? Napa Valley’s majestic hot air balloons will be uniquely displayed as part of the Art After Dark experience. Several tethered hot air balloons will light up the sky at the Oxbow Commons on both weekends of the festival. You won’t want to miss this stunning and uniquely Napan light show! 

Finally, you can also head down to The Villages at Vista Collina Resort. Here you can checkout Christopher Schardt’s Constellation Light sculpture. This exhibit transforms a space beyond something ordinary into something that sparkles with life. This stunning installation is enhanced by wine and beer tastings at the Village’s 9 tasting rooms. Conveniently, there is a free shuttle service from downtown. 

Art in April

Can’t make it in January, but really want to be a part of a Napa Art event? Don’t worry, Napa has you covered right when the weather turns truly amazing. 

Each year Arts Council Napa Valley has a month-long campaign to promote local talent. The goal is to bring the community together through live music, art fairs and exhibitions, storytelling, theatre performance, culinary arts, and hands on activities. From Napa to Calistoga, each city celebrates with different events throughout the month of April.

In 2019, downtown Napa will celebrate on April 21st from 2-5PM. First Street Napa, will host eight large-scale mural and art installations from artists across the Bay Area. The goal is to create a European Street Fair-feel with live performances throughout the day.   

Chalk R!ot

First, these artist are truly amazing and unique. And second, you never know when they may throw down. Chalk R!ot creates custom pavement art and chalkboard murals. What started out as a hobby between two friends has grown into a global public arts company.

Chalk R!ot

The best part is that they have a studio in Napa. As they say, chalk pairs well with cabernet and what is better than California sun and colorful public chalk art? 

This public arts company is awesome because you never know when you may see their work pop up around town. The medium of chalk is unique, the images are jaw dropping, and the timing always spot on. You will certainly be amazed when you stubble across one of their works whiles casually walking through town. 

What does all this mean for me

So, if you’re not an artist but you can appreciate looking at great art. Or you’re an art enthusiast and want to see pieces from world renowned artist. Napa’s got you covered. The city is crawling with public art that can be appreciated by everyone, no matter how you interpret it.