In my opinion, you really can't get better than The Bat House! That may seem like a bit of a silly thing to say, but for me, it's true. I thought I knew Gainesville well, however, upon searching for something to do for a few hours while driving through, I discovered info on the Bat House and simply HAD to check it out. I was so, SO happy I did! (I ended up staying four hours past when I had originally planned on leaving just so I could experience it!)
My husband, six year old son, and I arrived a bit early for a summer's evening.. around 6:45PM. Being that we are from another state, we didn't know what to expect, and had been told that quite a few people show up to witness the bats' awakening. On the evening we went, (8/13/13) the crowd comprised of around 50-60 people by the time the bats were finally heading out for the evening.
Once the sun sets (we DID check the local sunset time, which I advise you to do) the bats begin their day. (Er, night?) At first, there's a few enterprising fellows who flutter about and it's all very exciting... UNTIL THEY ALL BEGIN THEIR DEPARTURE! THAT is fascinating! The steady steam of these mammals is thrilling, and I was in awe. My family stayed for about half an hour... AND.THE.BATS.WERE.STILL.COMING.
So why is there nothing better for me than an activity such as this? Well, it is free, and that's always a plus, especially for a family on vacation. What's more is that this is an experience you don't come upon often (unless you live close), where nature/wildlife is literally on display without being commissioned or exploited, and is a learning experience.
My advice to you is:
--Go in the summer, when the days are long, and even after dark you can get a good view of the bats.
--Wear bug spray! As Lake Alice is literally across the street, mosquitos and other pests are everywhere! (Part of the draw of the bats!)
--Bring an umbrella. For poop.
--BE ADVISED: The smell of the bats is pretty horrible. Think: cat pee with a dose of something extra musky. It's gross. If you want to avoid that and be a super nerd, or are maybe just pregnant and have an extra sensitive sense of smell, check out wind directions and situate yourself upwind.
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