Mexican free-tailed bats take flight off Congress Avenue Bridge during bat watching season.

Family Vacations in Texas: Bat Watching at the Congress Avenue Bridge

Bat-viewing veterans debate the best place to see the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that blast out of their daytime home beneath Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge every evening. Some think it's best to stand or even lie down on the riverbank and look up as the sky darkens with the largest urban bat colony in North America. Others like to stand on the bridge for the panoramic view. Many tourists take to the water on Town Lake and reserve a place on a bat-viewing boat tour to watch the event, which can take as long as 45 minutes.

The bats began congregating in Austin in the 1980s after the bridge underwent structural changes. The construction provided just the right kind of crevices for them to hang out in (literally) during the day. Austinites reacted with fear and loathing until they learned that the bats consume between 10 and 15 tons of insects -- including mosquitoes -- each night. The bats begin their migration to Austin in early March and give birth to their pups in June. They spend the summer in Austin and head south again in November.

Best known for being the home of the Alamo, San Antonio hosts several family-friendly attractions. Learn more about activities for the whole family in San Antonio on the next page.

Bat Watching at the Congress Avenue Bridge Information

Address: Congress Ave. Bridge

100 Congress Ave

Austin, TX

Telephone: 512/327-9721

Hours of Operation: June to September evenings

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Family Vacations in Austin: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit The Un-Texas.
  • Texas State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Texas, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.