If you’re in search of a Texas city that’s not too big, and not too small, then look no further than Round Rock, Texas.

Not far north of Austin, in between Georgetown and Pflugerville, sits one of the best-managed and fastest-growing cities in Texas.  Dubbed “The Sports Capital of Texas”, Round Rock is home to nearly 150,000 residents who live for outdoor events, sports, and adventures.

In fact, Round Rock offers the following family-centric landmarks and venues worthy of visiting:

From the aforementioned venues listed above, the bats in Round Rock have gathered quite the following over the last two decades.  So much so that many people claim the bats in Round Rock put on a much better showing than downtown Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge bats.

While there is much debate over which colony of bats provides the best aerial experience, the one thing there is no debate over is finding a good place to park at each venue.

The bats in Round Rock live under the McNeil Road and IH35 underpass. It’s one of the most trafficked areas in all of Round Rock, located only minutes from downtown Round Rock.  

Both IH35 and McNeil Road always have a bit of traffic congestion, especially when the bats emerge just before or during rush hour(s) traffic.  

The location, businesses along the frontage of IH35, and a consistent modest to heavy traffic pattern present all sorts of parking challenges.  But don’t fret, we’ll provide you with both the best paid and free parking locations to watch the bats take flight in Round Rock.

Listed below are locations along IH35 in Round Rock, Texas to consider parking at to experience the emergence of bats at the McNeil and IH35 Bridge.

Holy Cross Coptic Orthodox Church

One of the best and closest locations to experience the bats in Round Rock is the Holy Cross Coptic Orthodox Church.  It’s located at the southwest corner of McNeil Rd and IH35 — 700 S Interstate HWY 35 in Round Rock, Texas.  PLEASE DO NOT PARK on the church’s grass.

Also, be mindful that the church has Saturday night services from 6 pm to 7 pm, and may not allow bat watchers to park on their premises. 

However, there is a strip of gravel road on the north side of the church where bat watchers and enthusiasts can park.  This location puts you front and center to see the bats drop from the McNeil and IH35 overpass, and glide into the southeast flight pattern.

NOTE: If you’re parents of toddlers, then this is likely not the best location due to train tracks and frontage road traffic.

AB&T Diesel Repair & Performance

Just south and next door to the Holy Cross Coptic Orthodox Church is AB&T Diesel Repair & Performance. 

It offers limited free parking for a handful of cars just off the IH35 frontage rood — 710 IH 35 Frontage Road.  You can park on the gravel entrance by their sign.  The bats emerge from the bridge and fly directly overhead when parking and watching from this location (great experience for kiddos).

Reminder: DO NOT BLOCK the entryway, especially when their gate is closed and locked.  If the gate is open, then they are open for business and full access at all times.

Chisholm Center (near Wag-A-Bag)

Not far south from AB&T Diesel Repair & Performance is a more safe and family-friendly option for viewing Round Rock bats: Chisholm Center

One of the best places to park is the parking space next to the Chisholm Center sign.  The bats fly overhead, giving you the opportunity for panoramic viewing and the possibility for the perfect bat background to a family photo and great memoir.

It’s located at the corner of S IH35 Frontage Road and Chisholm Valley Drive, just after passing its neighbor, Airco Mechanical (which may be a good place if they are closed at the time the bats take flight and have do not have no trespassing signs posted).

The Chisholm Center is home to roughly 10-15 small service businesses.  Free parking is available, but you’ll likely want to remain in your vehicle if you have small children.  Again, this location is at the corner of the frontage road with modest to high traffic at all times.  

Napa Auto Parts

Napa Auto Parts was once heralded as the best bat watching location in Round Rock — 601 S IH35 Frontage Road.  Years ago, the bats would drop into flight from the east side of the McNeil and IH35 overpass. 

Today, this location still is a good option for the bat watching experience, especially for families with children.  However, recent years of construction of IH35 and the frontage road on the east side have caused the bats to fly out from the west side of the overpass.  

Nevertheless, Napa Auto Parts is by far one of the safest places to park and watch Round Rock bats emerge and take flight.  It offers a fully striped, traditional parking lot.  Napa Auto Parts also has a 15-20 yard grassy run in front and on the south side of the building that’s perfect for kiddos and social-distanced watching from blankets and lawn chairs. 

And if Napa’s parking lot fills up completely, then immediately north is City Centre’s adjacently joined parking lot to park as well.

Bellview Avenue & IH35

An old long-time bat watching site that catches a little action is immediately south of Napa Auto Parts: Bellview Avenue and IH35 Intersection

There is no formal parking along this street that sits adjacent to the railroad tracks.  Bat watchers and enthusiasts could park along the north side of Bellevue Avenue, and stand in the gravel and grass area not far from the tracks to catch a view of the bats. 

NOTE: If you’re parents of toddlers, then this is likely not the best location due to train tracks and frontage road traffic.

United Heritage Credit Union

While there are a number of businesses on either side of IH35 not far from the bats, another safe location for families to experience bats in Round Rock is United Heritage Credit Union.  It’s located just south of the Bellview Avenue and IH35 intersection in Mays Crossing Shopping Center — 301 Mays Crossing Drive.

This location offers a westward panoramic viewing of the bats flying from the west side of the McNeil and IH35 overpass, and southeastward towards and passed United Heritage Credit Union. 

Another reason this location is good is that it has an official shopping center parking lot that is shared with the Academy, Pluckers, and a few other stores.  Another upside to this location is that the bank is always closed, and the parking lot free of staff and patron vehicles by the time the bats take flight each evening.

Whataburger in Renaissance Square

Last but certainly not least, one of the final good bat watching locations in Round Rock is found in Renaissance Square: Whataburger.  Really, all of Renaissance Square is good due to food options, an expansive shopping center parking lot, and the best panoramic bat watching experience in Round Rock.  

Located at 1601 State Highway 35 in Round Rock, Texas, Renaissance Square consists of restaurants, service stores, and a church.  It’s one of our favorite locations because it allows for families to eat and bat watch tailgate style, offering the following eateries onsite:

  • Whataburger
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Smokey Mo’s BBQ 

Not far, like only a rock’s throw away from Renaissance Square are the following restaurants:

  • Gino’s Italian Restaurant and Pizza
  • Juarez Restaurant
  • CiCi’s Pizza
  • Swan Indian Vegetarian
  • Del Sol Taqueria

Whether you eat before, during, or after your bat watching experience, you can’t go wrong with the Renaissance Square bat experience.

Enough about food though, and back to parking to enjoy an evening of Round Rock’s finest bat watching.  The bats emerging from the McNeil and IH35 overpass can not be seen from the Renaissance Square location. 

However, keep your eyes peeled, because unlike other locations, the Renaissance Square offers a breathtaking, panoramic experience of the longest ribbon and cluster of bats flying you’ll ever witness.