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“Fun and Educational”

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: 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.
Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Fun and Educational”
Reviewed December 13, 2013

A must see and visit. The guided trams tours are well done and you will see abundance of wildlife. The Wildlife Museum is amazing.

Visited September 2013
Thank Matthew R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,832 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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English first
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 5 Contributor
83 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Again and Again - Loved It”
Reviewed December 13, 2013

We went two days in a row. The first day we drove through the refuge and saw quite a few birds and a enormous alligator. The views are breathtaking and well worth the drive.

The next day we walked a few miles of the trail. There was one stop that was nice...otherwise it might have been a wide trail anywhere. This was a good walk, but the experience of the refuge wasn't the same as the drive.

Still...very much worth seeing and experiencing. We will be doing both again in the future.

Visited November 2013
Thank Kim R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
208 reviews
55 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
“Excellent refuge, great freedom to roam.”
Reviewed December 11, 2013 via mobile

This is a wildlife refuge, run very well, giving freedom to roam the trails at will. Obviously there are restraints, keep to the trails, respect the refuge and more importantly the wildlife, but the rewards are endless. Ding Darling was a guy with great foresight, leaving such a legacy behind.
We took the Eco Tour, not the normal "trolley bus" gig, but the things we learned about nature were great. It wasn't too heavy, information was just delivered in a fun manner and our driver would stop on a button if anyone spotted something interesting and yelled out. Take the tour, it's worth the $13 each and the 90 minutes out of your day.
We saw loads of different birds, blue crabs, alligators, tree crabs, mice and we apparently missed a 6' rat snake by a day .... To my utter delight!!
After the tour we visited the Visitor Centre & Gift Shop, saw some great exhibits and bought a few keepsakes of a great day!
See my review for Doc Ford's Run Bar & Grille, perfect for a relaxing lunch after your tour.

Visited December 2013
Thank Footsloggers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape May Court House, New Jersey
Level 4 Contributor
17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Visitors Center was wonderful and FREE”
Reviewed December 9, 2013

The National Wildlife Refuge is owned by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Sanibal Island (causeway to get on the island is $6.00 but only one way) -the concessions are run by the Tarpon Bay Explorers./ Birds and Trees and some critters (I am not a birder but still it was very enjoyable) -wonderful Visitors Center was Free -I opted for a tour on the Tram $14.00 -since I had no idea what I was seeing-and it was worth every penny -wonderful tour guide./ buy tickets in the parking lot kiosk b4 Visitors Center / / Make reservations #239-472-8900- Later drove down to Tarpon Bay road to find boat (3 mi ?)- took the sunset boat tour $31.00 nice but not worth the $ - it was ok but not as good as the tram tour just different / both lasted about 1 1/2 hrs (Sarasota Bay boat tour out of the MOTE Aquarium was better) -Best part was being with friends for the day :) -percentage of all proceeds go to refuge.

Visited December 2013
Thank robsept5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
27 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“A must see for young and old alike.”
Reviewed December 8, 2013 via mobile

We first came upon this amazing reserve a few years ago. At that time we spent hours driving, spotting, stopping and parking. Last month we rented bikes and spent hours riding around and found it so much more exciting and came across sea otters, magnificent birds and 6 alligators having a snooze at the side of the road.
The interpretative centre is worthy of your time and, donations and/or purchases.
All in all a fabulous place to walk, bike or drive around.

Visited November 2013
Thank scarpered
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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