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

#1 of 327 in Wildlife in Southwest Gulf Coast
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
6,183 reviews
  • We wanted to get our steps in early. Very enjoyable and scenic hike. Almost 4 miles. Would love to had seen more wildlife, but enjoyed all of the birds.  more »
  • We shared multiple trips to the refuge while we stayed on Sanibel for 6 days, I think we went a total of four times! The staff are knowledgable and will take the time to chat about different species.....  more »
  • 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.
  • Build a trip
    Tell us where and when you
    want to go, we will build
    the best sightseeing itinerary
  • Refine it
    You have complete flexibility on your destinations and itinerary
  • Book as a package
    Use our travel agents to get
    package savings and hassle free booking
  • Enjoy your trip!
    Enjoy our 24x7
    on-trip assistance