There’s never a shortage of things to do when it comes to Austin. From the lively nightlife to the abundance of good eats and boutique shopping, it’s a tough place to get bored. For those looking to do something uniquely Austin, head on over the the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the bat show that takes place each night as the sun begins to set.
When the Congress Avenue Bridge finished a major renovation in 1980, it quickly became a home to one of America’s largest urban bat colonies. From early spring to early fall, an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly in and out of the bridges’ crevices every night. Both tourists and locals will gather to watch the nightly flights of these fascinating creatures. And while there’s no getting around the hundreds of visitors who gather to watch our friendly neighbors, there are a few different ways you can experience this nightly show rather than standing on the bridge itself.
Perfect for hikers, bikers and outdoor enthusiasts, this 10-mile trail is located in downtown Austin and serves as a hidden gem for those looking to spread themselves farther away from tourists. You can simply pull off to the side and lay out a blanket or stand and watch as the bats make their way out into the night sky. For the best views, we recommend looking for a spot on the east side of the bridge, where the sky will open up and give you the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of the bats.
Leave the shoreline on a boat roughly 30 minutes before the sun sets, sit back and relax as you’re placed directly under the bats’ flying patterns for your viewing pleasure. With the bats’ nightly flights taking place roughly from March through October, it’s suggested that the best viewing times take place during the peak of summer and heading into the fall. Adult tickets cost $12 and children’s tickets cost $7. These tours are known to fill up quickly, so be sure to head to their website to reserve your spot.
For those looking to experience the Congress Avenue Bridge bats with a more self-guided approach, try Live Love Paddle. Rent yourself a kayak or paddle board and see the city from a unique perspective when you sign up for their nightly bat tours. Located directly next to our South Shore apartments, gear up and head out on Lady Bird Lake to check out the show. Prices for the bat tour is $45 per person with the tour lasting between 2 and 2.5 hours.
Enjoy the sight of Mexican free-tailed bats while bringing your own drinks on deck and enjoying commentary from the captain. Take in the sights and skyline of downtown Austin while you enjoy the unusual and exciting experience of seeing these wild creatures with friends and family. The tour will take place on one of Lone Star’s three smaller vessels: The Southern Star, The Northern Star or The Little Star. These tours last roughly an hour, with departure times roughly 30 minutes before sunset.
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