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 Congress Bridge Bats bats emerge from under the bridge to blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food. This event has become one of the most spectacular and unusual tourist attractions 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 show them better. 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 Congress Bridge Bats
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. 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.
3. Haunted Ghost and Bat City Bridge Tour from Gliding Revolution
Segway Tours from Gliding Revolulion offer another way to view the Congress Brigge Bats. On the Bat City Bridge segway tour, you'll get historical information about Austin with a focus on the State Capital of Texas grounds, the historic 6th Street Area, and South Congress Avenue (SoCo). That's in addition to a stop on Congress Bridge to view the Austin Bats evening departure. This tour runs daily at 5:30pm from March through to October and is $73 per person. They have a limited number of segways so we recommend getting a reservation on the books early for larger parties. Use this link to learn more about Gliding Revolution's Austin Segway Tours.
The Congress Bridge Bats in Austin are the largest urban bat colony in North America! Learn about fun ways to watch the Austin Congress Bridge Bats nightly departure that include boats, kayaks, segways, and more.
Hamilton Pool has been providing Austin residents with a fantastic watering hole just a short 30 minutes outside of town.
Top Golf in Northwest Austin has reinvented the driving range turning this location into an active nightlife destination fit for the whole family.
Austin Duck Adventures offers a combined land and water tour of Austin sights with amphibious vehicles. It's the ultimate Austin adventure.
Austin's latest addition to high-end fashion and ambiance, The Domain features 700,000 square feet of fabulous fashion, restaurants, and nightlife. Located in North Austin near the intersection of Hwy 183 and Mopac (Loop 1).
Come kayak with Live Love Paddle for a variety of Austin kayak tours and rentals. We offer daily kayaking tours to view the Congress Ave Bats! We also offer guided tours on local rivers, overnight trips, team building adventures, kayak rentals!
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.
South Congress Avenue near downtown Austin (aka SoCo shopping district) is known for its Bohemian energy. Supporting the Keep Austin Wierd motto, you can find hip new stores, funky restaurants, and groovy bars.
Austin's Lady Bird Lake winds 10 miles through downtown Austin featuring spectacular views, photo opportunities, and a great place for some exercise!
Our haunted Austin hearse limo tours are a thrilling adventure that explores Austin's haunted buildings, sites, and paranormal activity. Did we mention it's BYOB, in a limo, and REALLY SCARY!