J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island

Considered Florida's prime bird-watching area, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge protects one of the nation's largest mangrove ecosystems. Named after cartoonist "Ding" Darling, an important figure in the conservationist movement of the 1930s, the refuge provides a temporary home for migratory bird populations and attracts almost a million annual visitors with its "wildlife drive," a windy road through the mangrove forest and the tidal flats. You can watch thousands of birds from the comfort of your car, or drop into the visitor center to see interactive exhibits about great egrets, wood storks, blue herons, white pelicans, cormorants, ospreys, and bald eagles. The center also includes a bookstore that sells nature books and field guides. By using our Sanibel Island trip builder app , you can arrange your visit to J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and other attractions in Sanibel Island.
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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
5,352 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Historic NWR with great scenic drive to view wildlife and FL mangroves. This is a very special location, especially given the location in a very dense commercial environment such as Sanibel Island.  more »
  • We got to see some water birds and some reptiles. It was a nice drive around the preserve. Wasn't crowded  more »
  • This is a long drive through since the mph is low. There is not much to see in the heat. You should go 1st thing in the morning. I like going there because it is peaceful and it is cheap.  more »
Google
  • Awesome Park & Scenic Drive. It was too hot to walk the two miles - but the drive through is amazing as well. Amazing views along the stops. We saw birds , crabs , fish etc. We want to come back during winter or fall to see more animals.
  • Great free little museum at the entrance with lots of hands on and engaging activities for all ages. The volunteers were super nice and informative and allow you to borrow binoculars for free! To drive through the refuge it was only $5 a car load. There were many look out spots in to see the water and birds. You may want to take a look at the low tide times to see when the best time is to visit
  • The Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a staple of every trip to Sanibel Island, FL. Whether on foot, boat or car, the refuge can accommodate you however you travel. The information center is chocked full of interesting taxidermy figures and facts about the various animals, insects and plants that can be found in the area. It’s essentially a mini-museum. Bring the whole family - You won’t regret it!
  • Free visitor center with great information about the area and educational activities for adults and children. There are short walking trails and also a drive through the preserve that cost a few dollars, but offer scenic overlooks and stops to observe the surrounding nature and wildlife.
  • We visited on our honeymoon, and had a great visit. This time we were back again with a seven-month-old baby. The bathroom facilities are excellent. The Visitor Center was very baby friendly. There was a diaper changing station in the bathroom, and everything was very wheelchair / stroller accessible. Great place for young kids. We paid a dollar each to do a little hiking. We saw some nests with baby birds near an observation tower. We chose to only hike half a mile head back (pushing the stroller.) The hike is not very shaded, so I would only recommend going early in the morning, especially if you have kids. Very fun experience both times.

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8 days in East Coast of USA BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, museums, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: March, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 22 days in East Coast of USA BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: May, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 14 days in East Coast of USA BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND December, culture, beaches, historic sites, shopping, hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, culture, beaches, historic sites, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 11 days in United States BY A USER FROM PAKISTAN December, teens, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, teens, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 8 days in East Coast of USA BY A USER FROM INDIA October, outdoors, beaches, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: October, outdoors, beaches, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 19 days in Florida BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND March, outdoors, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: March, outdoors, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 57 days in Southwest Gulf Coast BY A USER FROM CANADA April, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, wildlife, slow & easy, popular sights PREFERENCES: April, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Slow & easy 8 days in Cedarburg & Fort Myers BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: December, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 8 days in Ochopee, Naples & Homestead BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, beaches, historic sites, popular sights PREFERENCES: January, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 5 days in Sanibel Island BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, popular sights PREFERENCES: December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 15 days in Fort Myers BY A USER FROM ARGENTINA April, popular sights PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 15 days in Naples BY A USER FROM ARGENTINA April, popular sights PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium
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