One of our favorite things to do in Gainesville is watching the bats emerge from the bat houses at the University of Florida at sunset. We take visiting family members to see this spectacle as well. And what a spectacle it is. It is amazing to see close to 500,000 bats stream out one after the other in search of their nightly dinner. They are a great reducing the mosquito population.
The first bat house was built on campus in 1991 with 2 more being built in the years to follow after a collapse of structure in 2009 from over population. The bat houses today hold one of the largest bat colonies in the world.
The best time to arrive is about 15 to 20 minutes prior to sunset. There is free parking adjacent to the field where the bat houses are located, which is on campus on the north side of Museum Road on Lake Alice. My advice is not to stand directly in front of the bat houses due to the probability of bat droppings, plus the smell up close is not very pleasant.
This is a FREE activity that your whole family will love.