Fun Tours to Explore Austin’s Unique Charm

Beautiful Sunset falls on the Austin Skyline as water enthusiast kayak and canoe on Lake Austin

Fun attractive female tourist points with excitement on the Congress Ave. Bat Bridge, millions of bats take flight nightly at dusk in downtown Austin, Texas.

 

1. Live Music Capital of the World Tour:

    • Austin’s claim to fame as the “Live Music Capital of the World” is celebrated in this tour.
    • Join a guided tour that takes you to iconic music venues, historic sites, and shares fascinating stories about the city’s musical legends.

2. Food Truck Tasting Tour:

    • Dive into Austin’s thriving food truck scene with a guided tasting tour.
    • Sample a variety of mouth-watering dishes from different food trucks, exploring the diverse culinary offerings that contribute to Austin’s reputation as a foodie haven.

3. Bat Watching Boat Tour:

    • Take to the water for a unique perspective on Austin’s famous bat colony.
    • Enjoy a boat tour on Lady Bird Lake at sunset to witness the Congress Avenue Bats emerging from beneath the bridge in a mesmerizing display.

4. Brewery and Distillery Tour:

    • Austin is home to a burgeoning craft beer and spirits scene.
    • Hop on a brewery and distillery tour to savor the local flavors, learn about the brewing process, and explore the city’s passion for craft beverages.

5. Haunted Austin Tour:

    • For those who enjoy a touch of the supernatural, embark on a haunted tour of Austin’s most eerie locations.
    • Professional guides share spine-chilling stories and take you to places with a reputation for paranormal activity.

6. Segway City Tour:

    • Glide through the streets of Austin on a Segway for a fun and effortless city tour.
    • Explore downtown, visit iconic landmarks, and enjoy the breeze as you effortlessly navigate the city’s streets.

7. Kayak and Paddleboard Tour:

    • Get active and explore Austin’s waterways with a kayak or paddleboard tour.
    • Paddle along Lady Bird Lake or the Colorado River, taking in stunning views of the city skyline and natural beauty.

8. Murals and Street Art Tour:

    • Austin’s streets are adorned with vibrant murals and street art.
    • Join a guided walking or biking tour that showcases the city’s creative spirit, taking you to the most Instagram-worthy spots.

9. Wildlife Safari at the Austin Zoo:

    • For a family-friendly adventure, head to the Austin Zoo for a wildlife safari.
    • Get up close and personal with a variety of animals and learn about conservation efforts in a scenic Hill Country setting.

10. Historic District Walking Tour:

  • Immerse yourself in Austin’s rich history with a walking tour of its historic districts.

Learn about the city’s roots, architecture, and the people who shaped its unique character.

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Congress Avenue Bat Bridge

Bat Flight Time: About 45K bats under the bridge; taking flight before or during sunset from 7:45 - 8:18 p.m.

Admission: Free

Parking: Combined Meter/Free Parking Lots Interspersed Throughout the City

What to Wear: Dress Warmly for this Post-Sunset Spectacle. Besides that Anything Goes. It is not unusual for “Batman” to show up several times a week.

You Will Need: Your Camera, a Picnic Blanket and your Sense of Adventure! Snacks are Sensible Too.

Your Safety Matters to Us

We care for your comfort and safety when you come on a tour with us, so please make sure to dress in your summer clothes as Bats favorite the warm weather and are mostly visible from October to March when it can get to 90 to 100 degrees. If you fancy something entirely different we even operate kayak tours that give you the chance to spy these magnificent creatures from the water. Not only is this an unforgettable excursion it also lets you see our splendid city in the most spectacular way!


See Many Bats

The Mexican Free-Tailed bats love to nest in our awesome city. Known as the fastest horizontal flyer on the planet and able to reach recorded speeds of 160 km/h; their departure every sunset from the Congress Avenue Bridge is world renowned – and so it should be, with its unimaginable colony of 1.5 million of them!


Book Now

So, to book your bat-based extravaganza either by sea or by land contact us today. We love to hear from other bat lovers and no question is too big or too small. You can also visit our shop to browse all the best in bat goodies. If you want to stay ahead of the curve in all things Mexican Free-Tailed Bats then please do sign up for our mailing list, where you can get access to special bat new and discounts that’s enough to make any fellow bat fan smile!

Please enjoy your visit with Austin Bat Tours and if there is anything else we can do for you just let us know!

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Featured Congress Bridge Bat Video!

Congress Bridge Bats in Austin, Texas

Most of the visitors that venture into Austin, Texas have heard of the city’s reputation for being home to a colony of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats.  Often overlooked, however, is the fact that Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake is one of the few locals that bats truly inhabit, and it is one of the biggest colonies of urban bats on the entire planet.  Many bat watchers from around the globe visit the Congress Bridge between Spring and Fall, to witness these majestic-winged creatures in flight.

Shoppers, tourist and Austinites fill the sidewalks of South Congress Avenue (SoCo) shopping and cultural district

South Congress (Soco) is a neighborhood located on South Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas, United States. It is also a nationally-known shopping and cultural district famous for its many eclectic small retailers, restaurants, music and art venues and, more recently, food trucks.

If you are familiar at all with bats, you know that they are nocturnal creatures by nature, and as the sun sets, they take flight, looking to consume any and all unsuspecting insects that happen to be airborne.  With a flight speed of 60 miles per hour, insects do not stand a chance, leaving  spectators awestruck by the bats amazing and erratic flight patterns.  Each evening, the flight path of the bats is unique and different from the previous, creating anticipation as bat enthusiasts await the cacophony of nocturnal, leathery wings.

Generally, the bats known simply as “scouts” will break the cavern enclosure initially, ensuring that no predators are waiting nearby.  The scouts will then signal the remaining bats that all is clear causing up to three massive streams of bats to rocket out of the cave and take to the skies!

Austin Bat Fest

Once a year, Austin, also known as “Bat City”, hosts an extravagant celebration in honor of the Mexican Free-Tails.  People from all around gather together to celebrate these mammals with food, professional vendors, and music.  Tourists, bat aficionados, and locals alike, all take pride in and cherish this annual event.

An attractive local Austin girl poses in front of the iconic “I Love You So Much” Mural in Soco, Austin, Texas

The “i love you so much” mural is a Austin favorite and international tourist attraction and Austin’s most famous landmark mural

Where Did They Come From?

If legend can be trusted, the Mexican Free-Tail bats started to frequent Austin, Texas, from spring to fall, at the same time the Congress Avenue Bridge was renovated, which attracted the bats already living in the drains located in the underbelly of the northern part of the bridge, seemingly by accident, and caused other bats of the same species to migrate from Mexico with the local bats making the same migration.  The bats were happy to find that the miniscule crevices under the bridge were ideal for building a colony and housing many, many bats.  With the assistance of time, purportedly, the colony eventually grew to be about one and half million strong, which is impressive, to say the least.

The bats population reached maximum capacity in approximately three years, stacking on top of one another in the aforementioned crevices.  This brought about the locals dubbing the northern portion of the bridge the “nursery”, which is where the mama bats leave their offspring as they go about their night-time insect hunting.  They then return to the nursery and use scent and echo location to find their bundles of nocturnal mammalian joy, which they then nurse before resting.

Having discovered Congress Bridge, the bats now make an annual migration from Mexico to Austin, Texas from the spring time to the fall, which would be the perfect time for any bat watchers or curious tourists to come visit the city and observe these marvelous mammals!

The Austin locals are also happy with the environmentally conscious bats whom eat an estimated thirty thousand pounds of insects every single night, reducing the need for any pesticide usage.  Not to mention that those pesky mosquitoes virtually do not exist due to the hungry creatures eating them every night.

About the Bats

When the bats initially migrate back to Austin, Texas, there will approximately be about 750,000 bats, which are, in their entirety, made up of pregnant females.  The colony, at this point is a “maternity colony”.  During their time as a maternity colony they will each birth one pup, generally creating an equal gender ratio within the colony, effectively doubling the colonies size to one and a half million!  That is a whole lot of bats!

 

"Never Give Up" is a mural painting on the Austin Railroad Graffiti Bridge over Lady Bird Lake - Stock Image

Creative graffiti artist paint colorful and inspiring messages such as the “Never Give Up” graffiti mural painting on the Austin Railroad Graffiti Bridge over Lady Bird Town Lake, Austin, Texas.

The newborn pups will generally stay at the colony for the first season, or so, of their lives, but the mothers that birthed them can always be expected to return to where they birthed their offspring the year prior.  With all of the female bats in Austin, let us not forget about the bountiful male population, as well.  The male bats will generally cluster in small groups ranging from twenty to one hundred, often times being found roosting on building alcoves, and the like.

These aforementioned Mexican Free-Tailed bats can live almost a decade and can weigh approximately twelve grams with a wingspan of eleven, or so, inches.  If they do not spread their wings, however, they are the size of an average adult’s palm.

Mexican free-tailed bats live for 8-9 years and only grow to weigh roughly 12 grams. Their wingspan is about 11”, but with their wings retracted, they can fit in the palm of a hand.

Another interesting fact about Austin’s bats are that in the early years of the 1980s, Austin locals worried about rabies infection and the implications therein of the bat populace outnumbering that of the local humans.  Purportedly, the locals petitioned for the extermination of the bats and the dismemberment of the colony.  If it were not for the Bat Conservation International organization, the bats may not have been around for the enjoyment of the individuals now.

If a bat ever contracts rabies, typically they have approximately seventy-two hours until they die, and are often experiencing the initial symptom of paralysis.  With that being said, if you see a grounded bat, do not touch it, as it may, in fact, have rabies.  If you happen to touch, or be bitten, by a downed bat, be sure to capture it and have it tested for rabies to ensure that you have not unknowingly contracted the disease.

Another bit of information that should be known is that, although the Mexican Free-Tail bat is a powerful and agile flyer, the young bats tend to fly at a lower altitude and can have trouble with lifting off, causing them to fall into the water.  If a young bat is spotted in the water, simply leave it be, as it will attempt to “backstroke” to one of the bridge pylons and clamber to safety.

Where Can Someone See the Bats?

The Mexican Free-Tail bats can be found in quite a few places around Austin.  Not only are they seen in most of the caverns and caves dotting the countryside, but they can be seen just south of Austin, at Bracken Cave, at the Hancock Center, at McNeil Overpass and the I-35 bridge, and dotting the alcoves and sides of various buildings around the city.

Two fit attractive women sit on a blanket drinking wine at the Blues On The Green free summertime concerts in Zilker Park, Austin, Texas - Stock Image

Two fit attractive women sit on a blanket drinking wine at the Blues On The Green free summertime concerts in Zilker Park, Austin, Texas. Blues On The Green is series of free summertime concerts hosted by KGSR Austin Radio and held in Austin’s Zilker Park.

The Statesmen Bat Observation Center, just southeast of Congress Bridge, does not cost much, and is available for public use.  With standing room along the top portion of the bridge and the closest parking to Congress Bridge, the Observation Center is definitely worth looking into if you want to see the bats.

If looking for bats by yourself does not seem too appealing, then you could always jump on one of the Austin Bat Tours, such as the Walking Tour, the Kayak Bat Sunset Tour on Lady Bird Lake, or the Bat Photo Tour.

Guide to Watching the Bats and Austin Bat Tours

With three different ways to experience the “Bats of Austin”, the bat tours will make for a memorable experience that will last a lifetime.

The Bat Walking Tour is approximately a ninety-minute tour guided by one of Austin’s leading bat experts.  Initially, the meeting point before the start of the tour is the Hyatt Hotel.  From there, the walk begins towards the Congress Bridge and stops at the Statesmen Observation Center where the bat experts then explain, in a thorough and vividly detailed manner, the history and backstory of Austin’s bats and how it all came about.

The Kayak Bat Watching Sunset Tour typically consists of a one hundred and twenty to one-hundred-and-fifty-minute endeavor that embarks from the Kayak Tour Offices on Riverside Drive and is an amazing way to view Austin up close and personal.  This tour encompasses some of Austin’s more historical and awe-inspiring sights, along with viewing the bats gobbling down bugs.

The Photo Tour is approximately a one-hundred-and-twenty-minute guided tour that begins at Congress Avenue Kayaks.  This tour is guided by a professional photographer who explains how to take amazing photographs of these majestic mammals.

One of the tips given on the Photo Tour is to shoot video instead of taking photos, as cellular devices typically do not have a fast-enough shutter speed to capture these agile animals in flight.

The various bat tours begin in the evening, and start in early March, proceeding until November.  Worst case scenario is that the bats do not take flight due to inclement weather, but the tours still afford many amazing photo opportunities.

Austin Bat Tours is a proud sponsor of Batcon and the Austin Bat Refuge. We make an annual sales donation to support these fine organizations:

Bat Conservation International
http://www.batcon.org/