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J.N. (Ding) Darling National Wildlife Refuge

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Address: One Wildlife Drive, Sanibel Island, FL 33957
Phone Number: +1 239-472-1100
Website
Activities: Birdwatching, Viewing wildlife, Kayaking
Description: Established in 1945, this wildlife refuge occupies one-third of Sanibel...
Established in 1945, this wildlife refuge occupies one-third of Sanibel Island and is a prime spot for birdwatching. Fees are required for Wildlife Drive. Wildlife Drive is closed on Fridays. There's an extensive and informative FREE visitor center, a fantastic wildlife drive, tram tours, kayaking, fishing opportunities, picnic benches, and even a free scavenger hunt style game and wildlife spotting app (Discover Ding) if you prefer a self-guided tour.
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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    Excellent
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    Very good
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    Average
  • 62
    Poor
  • 23
    Terrible
A nature lover's paradise

A must see for all visitors to my island home ....nature walks, or guided tram tours or drive your own car.... Don't miss the museum exhibits and educational displays. A treat... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed August 7, 2013
CiCi819
,
Sanibel Island, Florida
via mobile
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2,380 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Date | Rating
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English first
Sanibel Island, Florida
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
9 attraction reviews
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2013 via mobile

A must see for all visitors to my island home ....nature walks, or guided tram tours or drive your own car.... Don't miss the museum exhibits and educational displays. A treat for all ages.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
11 attraction reviews
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

Much of Ding Darling is closed to visitors during a huge renovation project on the roadways. You can still access the visitor's centre (excellent) and the Tarpon Bay area (the kayak rentals and touch tank are open). Definitely research what's available and what's not before planning your trip.

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
Sanibel Island, Florida
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
8 attraction reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2013

As an Island resident, I still never tire of Ding Darling. Depending on the season, the Refuge always has a variety of birds and wildlife for the visitor to observe. Winter months are better than the summer and evening time and low tide, as the birds come to roost and feed, is normally the best. Am still not sure why... More 

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Sarasota, Florida
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2013

Although I was disappointed to not be able to take the wildlife drive due to road improvements, I still enjoy the amazing Visitors Center of this unique and wonderful nature refuge. The exhibits are fun and educational, and there are activities for families. I always enjoy their shop, and make sure to buy something since the proceeds benefit the refuge.... More 

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Belle Fourche
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
16 attraction reviews
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2013

Although the kids were a bit reluctant to go at first, we all enjoyed the trip through here. Funny how we take for granted the red-winged black birds at home and here it is something wonderful to see. Lots of wildlife and just a peaceful thing to do.

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Sanibel Island, Florida
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
6 attraction reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2013

I cannot recommend a visit here highly enough! The management of the Refuge is very, very dedicated to preserving indigenous species of all kinds, Offering many special experiences for visitors through carefully planned stops along the long and winding exterior trail and in the beautifully designed interior exhibit space, adults and children can walk, drive, ride the tram, and bike... More 

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Seven Hills, OH
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
26 attraction reviews
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2013

Want to see birds? Go on the evening cruise. They come "home" to roost on the small islands of Tarpon Bay. You'll see pelicans, egrets, sandpipers, herons, ibises and more. Some on the boat saw a tarpon (big fish). Before the pontoon ride, you can hold and learn about different crustaceans.

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sanibel, fl
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2013

The Refuge has an outstanding visitor center, with informative displays and photos, knowledgeable volunteers and a complete bookstore. Guided tours on Wildlife Drive and on Tarpon Bay are affordable and educational. On your own; by car, bicycle, on foot, by canoe or kayak, you will likely see a wide variety of birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans and more. The animals... More 

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Sanibel Island, Florida
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
10 attraction reviews
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2013

I grew up here. Visit the infomation center. Take the tram tour early morning. You can walk, bike or drive your car slowly through the preserve. You will see alligators, pink flamingoes, crabs, all kinds of birds and maybe a bob cat if your quiet. Bring water and sunscreen.

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Sanibel Island, Florida
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
17 attraction reviews
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2013

We did not see and alligator but we saw every kind of bird there is to see. Get something that shows the local birds and have your kids try to spot as many as possible. There are places to pull over and just watch life happen too. Enjoy this beautiful place.

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Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of J.N. (Ding) Darling National Wildlife Refuge and other visitors
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North Shore of MA
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
24 days ago
Madison, Wisconsin
3 months ago

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Typical questions asked:
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  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?