Austin's Bat Colony

The world's largest urban bat colony—between 750,000 and 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats—hangs out beneath Austin's Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge from around March through October. Visitors and locals alike come downtown to claim a spot before dusk and watch the tiny winged critters make their dramatic appearance against the setting sun for feeding.

The best viewing spots are from the hike-and-bike trail by the bridge, the patio of the Four Seasons hotel, or the new Chavez restaurant at the Radisson hotel. If you're staying lakeside at the Four Seasons or Radisson hotel, there are excellent vantage points from some rooms and public spaces. Viewing the bats from the lake, aboard a cruise ship, kayak, canoe, or paddleboard is also a wonderful experience. Visitors on a budget should stand on top of the bridge itself and face eastward as that's the direction of the bats mass exodus— be sure to arrive early (as much as an hour ahead) in peak season; the bridge gets crowded.

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