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

Must see · Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
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. Using our international travel planner, Sanibel Island attractions like J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
Create an itinerary including J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
6,102 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • A great stop if you enjoy looking for birds. Bring your binoculars and watch for many types of herons and egrets.  more »
  • We went to Ding Darling and saw a black racer snake within 10 minutes, boy was that a hoot for our 8yr and 6 yr boys! We walked the boardwalk, free for the first portion than $1/person, and enjoyed...  more »
Google
  • We drove ourselves on the Wildlife Drive!!! What an amazing drive for only $5!! You can get out of your cars and view the scenery. We were so impressed with all to see! We saw all types of birds, spiders and crabs! We even saw a gator and a shark!! What a great experience!! Highly recommend!!
  • We arrived hoping to catch the trolley bus tour. Please be advised they will not run the bus unless there are a minimum of 4 people. They need to advertise this fact before people travel there. The 9am did not run luckily the 12.30 pm did. Be advised to ensure you have plenty of water with you on the tour. They could really do with an air conditioned cafe inside while hanging around for the bus. The tour bus driver was informative and we were able to see birds and one alligator at a cost of $13 per adult. I believe the $6 Per vehicle self drive is worth it with a bird guide book and a pair of binoculars.

Plan your trip to Sanibel Island

  • Get a personalized trip
    A complete day by day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it
    Refine your trip. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it
    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it
    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Popular things to do in Sanibel Island

See all ›
©
Scenic Drive
Sanibel Causeway
4.4
Duration: 2 hours
©
Specialty Museum
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
4.4
Duration: 2 hours
©
Beach
Bowman's Beach
4.2
Duration: 2 hours
©
Lighthouse
Sanibel Island Lighthouse
3.9
Duration: 2 hours

Side trips from Sanibel Island

©
Boat Tour
Boat Tours & Water Sports Cape Coral
4.9
Duration: 2 hours
©
Beach
Captiva Beach Captiva Island
4.3
Duration: 2 hours
©
Fishing Charter / Tour
Fishing Charters & Tours Captiva Island
4.5
Duration: 2 hours
©
Parasailing / Paragliding
Parasailing & Paragliding Captiva Island
4.6
Duration: 4 hours

Kid-friendly things to do in Sanibel Island

See all ›
©
Beach
Blind Pass Beach Park
4.2
Duration: 2 hours
©
Boat Tour
Boat Tours & Water Sports
4.5
Duration: 2 hours
©
Playground
Sanibel Community Playground
4.8
Duration: 2 hours
©
Beach
Tarpon Bay Beach
4.2
Duration: 2h 30 min

Shopping in Sanibel Island

See all ›
©
Gift & Specialty Shop
Bailey's General Store
4.6
Duration: 2 hours
©
Flea Market
Sanibel Island Farmer's Market
4.7
Duration: 30 minutes
©
Gift & Specialty Shop
Gene's Bookstore
4.8
Duration: 1h 30 min
©
Shopping Mall
Periwinkle Place
4.5
Duration: 2 hours

Hidden gems in Sanibel Island

©
Fishing Charter / Tour
Fishing Charters & Tours
5.0
Duration: 4 hours
Dolphin / Whale Watching
Dolphin & Whale Watching
5.0
Duration: 2 hours
©
Beach
Gulfside Beach
4.3
Duration: 2 hours
Outdoor Activity
Whitney's Bait and Tackle
4.9
Duration: 2 hours

Nearby attractions in Sanibel Island

©
Library
Sanibel Public Library
4.8
Duration: 2 hours
©
Lesson / Workshop
Sanibel Sea School Day Program
5.0
Duration: 3 hours
©
Spa
Sanibel Skin Spa
4.8
Duration: 2h 30 min