Monday, June 16, 2014

Kickin' it in Austin: Barton Springs, The State Capitol, and Congress Bridge Bats

The other day, after hiking Enchanted Rock, we drove out to Austin to do a few more things before we leave grand ol' Texas.  Our first stop in Austin was the famous Barton Springs Pool.  Located in Zilker Metropolitan Park, Barton Springs Pool is a huge pool--3 acres--and is fed by the Main Barton Springs.  With a slippery, mossy, bottom and water temperature of 70º year round, you really feel like you're swimming in cool, natural spring water!  Honestly, the water was a little cold for our kids after a while, but they had fun splashing around until their lips turned purple!

Just outside the gates of the pool, also in  Zilker Park, is the Zilker Zephyr Train.  It's just a cute little train that takes you on a 20 minute ride through the park along the river.  The kids loved it.  They also loved the snow cones that we'd bought at the snack bar to eat while we rode the train :)

After Barton Springs and the train ride, we drove over to the State Capitol for a nursing break and to let the kids run around before we went down to see the bats.  It's such a beautiful building with plenty of well-mainucured grounds to explore, have picnics, and run around. 

Around 7:30pm we headed down towards South Congress Bridge to find a parking spot and to make our way over to find a spot to camp out and wait for the bats to emerge.  The Congress Bridge Bats are an awesome phenomenon.  The bridge is home to about 750,000 bats, and they emerge after sunset to hunt for food in the form of insects.  Watching the bats is a wildly popular activity and it's fun to just hang out and enjoy the evening with all the other spectators.  Once the bats come out, you'll want to be close to the river because that's where they are most visible in the night sky.  William thought it was awesome to see the bats flying around crazily and both our kids have been asking to go back to the "bat house" to watch the bats ever since.  But if you go to see the bats, be warned, it will be a late night!  With sunset being so much later on these summer nights, the bats didn't emerge until 9:00pm, and we didn't head out until about 9:45pm.  A few days later and we're still paying the price with our kiddies!  But it was a great experience and we had a ton of fun. 

All of those black specks in the picture above are the bats.  It was hard to get a good picture in the darkness, but if you're lucky enough to see them fly out during sunset as opposed to after sunset like they did for us, then I'm sure your pictures will completely outshine ours :)  

Overall, our day in Austin was a blast.  It was a very full day, but we left having completed everything we set out to do and our kids held up like champs, so we consider it a huge success!  If you go to Austin, be sure to check out Barton Springs and the Congress Bridge Bats!

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