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Summer In Austin: Meet the Largest Urban Colony of Bats in the World

You probably know Austin Texas for its wilderness preserve, good food, theaters, museums, parks and, of course, it’s 3-acre swimming pool - Barton Springs. But here’s another one you might not have heard of that’s among the most-loved by tourists - the Austin Bats.

During the months of March through October, some 1.5 million bats emerge on the underside crevices of the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. This happens about 20 minutes before the sun sets. Every summer afternoon, hundreds of people gather together around the area to witness the bats and their fulfilled flights. These bats make Austin the largest urban bat colony in the world.

These are Mexican free-trailed bats which migrate from Mexico each spring. Most of them are female and give birth in early June. These bats are usually seen emerging under the bridge from 6-9 pm. They are medium-sized, with broad, black forward pointing ears. They have reddish to dark brown fur and long, narrow wings. Their tails extend about more than a third beyond the body size. These bats help this city keep the insect population at the bay, having to eat around 30 pounds of insects each nightly flight!

The best viewing site would be the east side of the bridge as these bats fly eastward over Lady Bird Lake. If you take the hillside site below the bridge, you'll get an up-close view as they emerge, but keep your eyes wide open, they are quick to disappear over trees! If you want a more dramatic view, you may want to consider the waters below the bridge. There are great kayak and canoe rentals around the area.

March to October Average Austin Sunset Times (Central Time)

  • March: 7:40 p.m.
  • April: 8:02 p.m.
  • May: 8:21 p.m.
  • June: 8:36 p.m.
  • July: 8:32 p.m.
  • August: 8:05 p.m.
  • September: 7:28 p.m.
  • October: 6:54 p.m.

Here's a week-long Austin itinerary for you

Day 1

Have a hearty breakfast at Magnolia Cafe, then head to the Lady Bird Lake where you can enjoy walking on beautiful overgrown trails, watch cute ducks and turtles while getting a good view of Austin's stunning skyline. Before sunset, go watch the bats at the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. It’s just a short walk from the lake.

Day 2

Visit the Texas State Capitol, walk the ground, see the dome and savor Austin's reach gubernatorial history. Then head your way to the Governor's Mansion for a tour. If you get hungry, you can check out Guero’s Taco Bar. At night, you can catch a band at the classic (since 1964) Broke Spoke and enjoy music, beer, and fine food.

Day 3

Spend a few hours visiting the Bullock Texas State History Museum, then head over to experience shows at the Spirit Theater. Grab a bite at Chili Parlor and then walk your way to the world-class Blanton Museum of Art. Afterwards, on 6th street you'll find Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill and get a taste of their awesome selection of quick eats. Walk a few more steps just at the corner of Lamar and 6th Street and you will find the famous Amy's Ice cream. Yum.

Day 4

An Austin experience is incomplete without seeing the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. Walk on gorgeous rolling hills and learn about Texan flora and fauna. Then enjoy the trail…you might be unwilling to leave it. After that, you can head to Zilker Botanical Garden. Fill your tummy with good stuff at Shady Grove Restaurant. Wrap up your day at the famous Alamo Drafthouse Cinema where you can have dinner or order a pitcher of beer and watch some random movie.

Day 5

Take a ride on the Zilker Zephyr miniature train. The ride will tour you around the Zilker Park. Jump in the Barton Springs Pool and enjoy the cool, refreshing 68-degree water. Go to Halcyon Coffeehouse and sip great coffee…while roasting marshmallows. If you have still have any energy left, take a stroll at the popular River Walk.

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