The Austin Bats are Austin's most popular visitor attraction. The Congress Avenue bridge spans Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin and is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America known as the Congress Bridge Bats. This colony is estimated at 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats. Each night from around mid-March to early November, the Austin Bats emerge from under the bridge to blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food. This nightly event is considered the most spectacular and unusual tourist attraction in Austin Texas.
The most spectacular bat flights are during hot, dry August nights, when multiple columns of bats emerge. During a rainy season (rare in Austin), there are more insects out and the bats do not have to leave as early to forage for food and you may not see as many bats. If you're on a boat looking up at the bats, the contrast against the evening sky helps make the more visible. There is a decent spot to watch the bats along the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail just East of the bridge on the South side of Lady Bird Lake. Many people will watch them from the bridge above. Both spots can get very crowded and neither provides as good of an experience as watching it from the water on one of the tours listed below.
Cool Ways to View the Bats in Austin!
1. Capital Cruises Bat Watching Tours
Capital Cruises is home of the largest electric paddle wheel boat in the country and the now famous Sunset Bat Watching excursion that offers a spectacular view of the Congress Bridge Bats as they fly out overhead where the contrast against the evening skyline helps them stand out. This tour fills up nearly every night during bat season sometimes a few days in advance. Prices are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for kids. You need to arrive about 30 minutes before sunset to get on the boat and buying tickets in advance is highly recommended during peak summer months as they sell out nearly every night, including weekdays. Use this link for Capital Cruises Bat Watching and Sightseeing Tours to learn more.
2. Lone Star Riverboats Bat Watching Tours
Like Capital Cruises, Lone Star Riverboats also offers bat watching tours along Lady Bird lake. Both companies offer weekend afternoon tours, but Lone Star also has a Friday night tour. Both companies tend to operate as roll over for the other especially when one boat is booked for a private event. The tours vary some, but the same great bat watching from beneath the bridge in the comfort of a seat is available here too. Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7 for children under 12, and children under 2 are free. This is a great tour for the views of downtown and the Austin bats. I'd recommend some water on hot summer nights. Use this link for Lone Star Riverboats Sightseeeing Tours to learn more.
3. Live Love Paddle Kayak Bat Watching Tours
Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake with Live Love Paddle's bat watching tour is one of our favorite ways to view the bats. The cool water of the Colorado river beneath you drops the temperature nearly 10 degrees. Plus the view of downtown at sunset can make for some spectacular photos that are almost as amazing as the bats themselves. Tours start at 1602 East Riverside Drive, cost $45 per person, and tandem boats are available. The minimum weight on bat-watching tours is 30 lbs and maximum weight is 275 lbs. That means THIS TOUR IS KID FRIENDLY. Tours start just before dusk so times vary with the season. Use this link for Live Love Paddle's Austin Bat Wathing Kayak Tours to learn more.
Looking for Things to Do in Austin?
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While You're in Town, Check Out Our Friends at Haunted ATX!
If you're looking for something fun to do in Austin, make sure you check out our friends at Haunted ATX. They offer two of the most unique tours in town. Their main tour, features a visit to several Haunted sites around Austin. You climb into a classic Cadillac hearse that has been converted into a spooky limousine and visit several historic Austin landmarks that are reportedly haunted or have experienced paranormal activity, including the Driskill, Tavern, Clay Pit, and Littlefield House. You get out of the hearse frequently and go inside the establishments, but there's not too much walking involved. The Haunted Tours are fun, inspiring, and a little scary at times. If you're interested, they offer a VIP upgrade option to get a private tour and customer pickup. Use this link to learn more about Haunted ATX Hearse Limo Tours.
Also, feel free to check out our friends at Allicin's Ranch where you can buy organic garlic fertilized with bat guano.
The Best Way to View the Bats in Austin, TX! The Congress Bridge Bats are the largest urban bat colony in North America and this page outlines the four great ways to view the Austin bats by boat, kayak, and more!
Nestled on the shores of Scenic Town Lake at the Hyatt Regency, Capital Cruises offers bat watching, dinner cruises, party boats, sightseeing tours, boat rentals and group events and outings!
Experience Austin's F1 track on a go karts that go up to 55 miles per hour at Circuit of the Americans. It's every turn, every corner, and all the action you can handle!
Float On Boat Rentals rents boats to Austin locals and visitors on Lake Travis and Lake Austin.
Enjoy sleight-of-hand magic, stage illusions and an array of audience participation magic as well as a museum showcasing the history of magic.
Lake Travis Zip Line Adventures offers a unique and thrilling way to view Lake Travis, one of Austin's most visually appealing lakes due to the rolling hills that surround it. Explore this unique and exciting adventure today.
Mount Bonnell in Austin, TX is one of Austin's oldest tourist attractions being documented as far back as 1850. It is the highest point within Austin City Limits which helps create spectacular views.
The Rainey Street District is one of Austin's hottest night life scene. Comprised of mostly old homes converted into bars and restaurants, there are several unique and interesting places to eat and buy drinks for a perfect night of barhopping. With several bars, each with its own personalty, there is a place for everyone
The Escape Game in Austin, TX offers one of Austin's newest and most engaging activities. You and your friends are locked up in precarious situations, given clues and left to find your way out! We offer an escape from ordinary life that allows you to live the stories you love.
Barton Springs Pool in Austin's favorite swimming hole. Located on the edge of Zilker Park its a great place to escape the heat and enjoy the outdoors.