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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Features Animals
1 Wildlife Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-3032
+1 239-472-1100
Review Highlights
Fabulous drive-through outing

Wildlife preserve offers bike trail and paved road for cars. Many observation platforms if you want... read more

Reviewed 30 June 2016
Morganton, North Carolina
via mobile
Lots to see and admire

We love visiting Ding Darling. We usually drive in and stop at all the sites. My boys also like to... read more

Reviewed 30 June 2016
Miami, FL
via mobile
Read all 4,925 reviews
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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.
  • Excellent66%
  • Very good23%
  • Average8%
  • Poor2%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“ding darling” (578 reviews)
“tram tour” (324 reviews)
“white pelicans” (210 reviews)
1 Wildlife Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-3032
+1 239-472-1100
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Reviews (4,925)
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1,121 - 1,130 of 4,640 reviews

Reviewed 30 June 2016 via mobile

Wildlife preserve offers bike trail and paved road for cars. Many observation platforms if you want to get out of the vehicle. Convenient for those who want to stay in the car. Enjoy the sights and take a slow drive or ride. If you want...More

1  Thank CindyCookRN
Reviewed 30 June 2016 via mobile

We love visiting Ding Darling. We usually drive in and stop at all the sites. My boys also like to fish. Each visit is unique. We've seen spoonbills, herons, snook, turtles... You name it. When in Sanibel, this is a must

1  Thank gaby1226
Reviewed 29 June 2016

Great place to see the wildlife that inhabits the island. Lots of birds and sometimes alligators can be seen in the refuge. Make sure to visit the indoor education center to learn about wildlife and view the many displays.

1  Thank buckeye-vintage
Reviewed 28 June 2016

Now here is the way to learn about Sanibel and the important ecosystem of the area. Friendly, helpful staff, beautiful hands-on exhibits (inside the visitors center), lovely gift shop. The wildlife drive was great-you've got to do this by the way! Also loved learning about...More

2  Thank catherinelC7543GG
Reviewed 28 June 2016

The boat tour started with an explanation of some of the local wildlife. They let you bring food and drinks on the boat. The night we were there we saw dolphins, flocks of pelicans and a multitude of other types of birds. It was a...More

Thank kellyibob
Reviewed 28 June 2016

We did a hike along one of the trails then drove through the rest. The trails are nice and well kept. Entry fees are reasonable. Due to the heat we only saw birds and fish.More

1  Thank HockeyParent13
Toni W, Manager at J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, responded to this reviewResponded 2 July 2016

Thanks for the review... yes, low tide is the best time to visit and the heat can really cut back on the wildlife you will see. (they are resting or in the water/shade staying cool) The winter months Jan-March are our peak bird times. Come...More

Reviewed 28 June 2016 via mobile

Our family enjoyed the welcome center with friendly, helpful staff to answer questions and help identify a bird we saw the day before. The 4 mi drive was just enough to catch a glimpse of birds and wildlife in the area. We used our annual...More

1  Thank Walkinlove
Reviewed 28 June 2016

If you are 62 or over, you qualify for a Golden Eagle Pass which is good for admission at all National Parks, Recreation Areas, etc. and it costs only about $10 for life. Ding Darling has plenty of birds, especially in winter. Take the guided...More

1  Thank Jerry B
Reviewed 27 June 2016

Poor fishing, not many animals out, even on the paid wildlife cruise. My husband is a veteran which allows us the opportunity to use The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass at "Ding". People at the visitor center was unaware of the program. The...More

1  Thank karrena123
Reviewed 26 June 2016

Great place to learn about the Island.Interesting exhibits about nature and Mr. Darling a very interesting man and visionary!

Thank Rosewoodfoodie
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Questions & Answers
Stewart T
17 October 2017|
AnswerShow all 4 answers
Response from hwhudson | Reviewed this property |
I agree. There will be many birds you can get just fine with the 200 but my guess is you’ll wish you had the 600 if you don’t take it. Enjoy!
14 August 2017|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from lhamo1953 | Reviewed this property |
Sorry it took me so long to answer your question! I don’t keep up with TripAdvisor that often... Ding Darling only takes a couple of hours at the most... it’s a nice half- day excursion on Sanibel ( in my opinion).
Carrie F
6 July 2017|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from ClaudiLynn | Reviewed this property |
Huge parking lot should have room