Austin Bat Cruise With Kids: You Need These Tips!
The South Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is home to the largest urban (Mexican free-tailed) bat colony in the world. They migrate each spring from central Mexico and return to Mexico in early Fall. Austin is famous for these bats, but have you ever taken your kids to see them? Standing and waiting along a crowded bridge in the dark with kids can be more stressful than fun. If you want to see the South Congress bats, consider an Austin bat cruise with kids! This is such a fun way to see the city, and one of our favorite things to do when visitors come to town. We’ve got all the tips you need.
Austin Bat Cruise With Kids
Capital Cruises Bat Watching & Sunset Tour
We love bringing our guests on a bat watching tour. It’s such a fun way to see our beloved city. You get to see the sunset while out on Town Lake while a knowledgeable (and often funny) tour guide gives you some insights you might not already know about Austin. Then come the bats! The bat cruise guide also has a special red flashlight that helps you see the bats emerge without hurting them, so you get a better view than the people standing on the bridge above.
We parked at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, located at 208 Barton Springs Road at the intersection of Congress and Barton Springs on the south side of Town Lake. There’s an outdoor lot and a parking garage if you can’t find a spot outside. You have to pay for parking (it starts at $7 and may be higher on some days).
Make reservations online. Price is $13.00 for adults, $10.00 for seniors & $8.00 for kids 3 to 12.
We like to get there early. You have to find parking and make sure you’re in line to check in at least 15 minutes early. We like to get in line earlier than that, to ensure our group gets to sit together. It’s first come, first served seating. We also like to take our kids to the bathroom at the Hyatt before we board the boat. There are no restrooms onboard. You will be on the boat for about and hour and a half to 2 hours. The boat departs about a half hour before sunset and starts heading back towards the bat bridge at dusk.
Time of Year
You can usually see the Austin bats from March through October. If you go mid May – June, you may not have the best luck seeing any as it is their birthing time. The absolute best time for viewing is July-September/early October. Late October/early November is less ideal for viewing due to cold fronts that pass through. We’ve gone twice in July and once in early October.
We like to go early, park at the Hyatt, and sometimes grab appetizers and drinks on their patio. You get a great view of Town Lake, you can use their restrooms, and there’s a path just off the patio that leads you right to the check-in line for Capital Cruises.
You can bring food and drinks on the boat! This is so great for keeping kids entertained when they eventually get bored of being onboard. The cruise times are usually around dinner time as well, so we’ve often gone and gotten tacos to go and brough them with us to eat on the boat. You are also allowed to bring alcohol. Don’t forget water and snacks for the kids.
Life jackets are provided, but we’ve never worn them.
The tour can be too long for some kids. We were onboard for about 2 hours (and stood in line to check in for a while before that). It can also start late, depending on the time of year you go. If it’s peak summer, the bats won’t emerge til dusk, which can happen very late! Kids will be staying up past bedtime. Another con is that you are stuck…on a boat… surrounded by other people. There’s no where to go if your kid wants to get off or starts throwing a tantrum. One last con- there are no restrooms on board. This can definitely be challenging with little kids, so make sure they go potty before getting on the boat!