About three weeks ago we told the twins we were going to see the Congress Bridge Bats right after dinner with my family. Unfortunately, that dinner lasted way longer than we thought and we never made it. Somehow we came up with that parent excuse, you know the one you become so good at concocting on the spot, and veered them off topic for the evening.
That was short lived though, guess what the first thing we heard the next day and every day after? You guessed it! A lot of “when are we going to see the bats?” and even more of “are we going to see the bats today?” That lasted 3 weeks, yall! Three. Weeks. Nonstop.
Cue Labor Day weekend where we didn’t have very much planned! Read: miracle because our schedules are always crazy! So we finally made it happen! Below are some pointers to consider if you decide to visit these Mexican free tailed bats under Congress Ave. Bridge in Austin, which I would highly recommend you do because, well, they are awesome!
The bats migrate here in March and stay sometimes through November, making home under the “Congress Bridge” also known as the Ann W. Richards Congress Ave. Bridge. They emerge right around sunset so check timings on the weather app or online and plan around that timing to be sure you don’t miss it.
*Fun fact: Majority of the bats are female and they give birth to one pup (baby bat) in the early summer months. Which means the population almost doubles by Mid-August!!
There are multiple ways to see the bats, we did the one that required the least prep, can you blame me? We grabbed a spot on the Congress Bridge and waited until the bats were ready to come out. This requires you get there a little earlier than sunset to find a decent spot. Sunset when we went was at 7:47pm, we got there right around 7:15pm and waited about 35-40 mins to see them fly out and even that seemed a little too late to get a good spot. Luckily, the lovely lady and her two daughters next to us let our munchkins stand right by the bars underneath them to get a better view. They were thrilled!
Other options for good views; rent a kayak or canoe, possibly even stand up paddle board! There are also boat cruises during that time which give you a front row seat to the action right near the bridge! How awesome does that sound?
Majority of the bats fly low and then go up so if you decide to do the bridge and are behind tall people, which I always am at 5’2”, you may not see them until they are further out. Hence the pictures.
(The black cloud in the background was the first group of bats to leave)
There are also a lot of random bats that will fly in every which direction that my husband referred to as Lone Rangers, as they are lovingly called. They were almost more fun to watch! Imagine the total confusion in their heads and then a whole slew of people trying to capture the perfect shot of them. It. Was. Awesome!
One last thing, since you’re already downtown, I would highly suggest you make plans to check out SoCo (South Congress) where there are tons of restaurants and cute shops to indulge in. It helps to have a full stomach and something pretty while you wait for the bats to emerge!