J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Nature Preserve and Other Great Outdoors
Sanibel
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8.4/10
184
ratings
  • Kristin M.
    "Really nice, we saw an alligator and a snake and many birds."(15 Tips)
    Scott H.
    "Get here during low tide, best time for birding"(12 Tips)
    Jessica G.
    "tram tour... TONS of bird wildlife"(4 Tips)
    Evan
    "Skip Indigo Trail during the day if you want to see wildlife."(13 Tips)
52 Tips and reviews
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  • Steve M.
    Steve MoranFebruary 26
    The Nature Trail was a great way to spend time really enjoying the birds, and the aquatic life on the island. The trail is set up so you could walk, bike or drive your way through.
  • C-SPAN
    C-SPANJune 9, 2014
    As the 2nd most visited wildlife preserve in the US, the refuge sees 800,000 visitors a year. To learn more about the history of this refuge as well as the local ecosystem check out this C-SPAN video. Read more
  • Brigette K.
    Brigette K.August 6, 2014
    Very nice setup! Helpful staff. Only $5 to drive through the refuge, can stop anywhere along the route to check out the wildlife. Can come back at any time during the day you paid to tour again free.
  • Ilana Y.
    Ilana YokelJanuary 8, 2014
    Been here 5+ times
    Come at low tide for the best birding. Most of the clean up is done by volunteers, so if you see something pick it up if you can.The visitor's center is only at the start, so be prepared to loop back.
  • Steve N.
    Steve NorrisFebruary 4, 2016
    We were on bikes and saw more staying on the road, as there was more people spotting wildlife. We really enjoyed ourselves but would go again very early morning or late afternoon to see more wildlife.
  • Sanibel S.
    Sanibel SamNovember 10, 2013
    Maximum birds at low tide either early morning or late afternoon. The slower you go the more you will usually see. Patience. Some days you're only going to see the beautiful trees. This ain't Disney.
  • Taylor H.
    Taylor HorenDecember 22, 2014
    The 2nd most visited wildlife refuge in the U.S.! Bring a camera and bug spray. Come in the morning or late evening at low tide.
  • Diane M.
    Diane McKeeverDecember 14, 2013
    If you're planning on taking the tram tour, and I would strongly recommend that you do, you need to make a reservation. Tours fill up fast even out of season.
  • Richard R.
    Richard RevillaDecember 3, 2014
    Wonderful place for a walk and to take in nature. Make sure to start in the visitors center to get an overview of the preserve.
  • Christopher L.
    Christopher LongJanuary 4, 2015
    Been here 5+ times
    Come learn about the Manatees, birds and other wildlife. Take one of the excellent tours or drive/bike the 4mi Wildlife Drive ($5 per vehicle), closed Fridays. Support the Refuge!
  • Janet W.
    Janet WilsonJuly 13, 2015
    Been here 10+ times
    Go during low tide, early morning or late evening when birds and animals might be feeding.
  • Lauren C.
    Lauren ConnollySeptember 2, 2011
    Be courteous and if you see someone taking pictures or staring at something- don't drive really fast to find a spot to park, don't slam the doors and don't loudly run over. It scares the animals!
  • Elle W.
    Elle W.January 1, 2013
    Been here 5+ times
    Low tide = lots of birds. And be sure to slow down and scan the trees and the water. Mangroves and mangrove crabs are a can't-miss.
  • Christy K.
    Christy Key-SturlaugsonFebruary 24, 2016
    Love this place! Staff is very informative and has lots of hands on learning available. Fun for all ages.
  • Jessica G.
    Jessica GallagherJanuary 24, 2013
    Worth it to take the tram tour... TONS of bird wildlife to check out that you might miss on your own!
  • Janet W.
    Janet WilsonAugust 21, 2016
    Been here 10+ times
    Go early evening or low tide. Animals and birds are more likely to be out then.
  • Ryan S.
    Ryan StonerOctober 29, 2012
    Drive the 4 mile tour and be sure to stop at the Mangrove lookout. Keep your eyes peeled for flocks of birds and Alligators.
  • FLAfamilyguru
    FLAfamilyguruMarch 24, 2014
    Been here 25+ times
    Wildlife Drive is a must-do. $5. And don't miss the education center - it's free.
  • Kristin M.
    Kristin MangenoApril 5, 2013
    Really nice, we saw an alligator and a snake and many birds. We drove it, but I think biking it would be best.
  • Ernie H.
    Ernie HsiungJuly 6, 2013
    FYI, the outside "Indigo Trail" is closed for repaving until October 2013. The learning center inside is open and is museum like, if kinda average.
  • Josh M.
    Josh MatejkaJune 21, 2012
    Don't take the tram tour. Drive or bike through and stop at your own leisure. Much more enjoyable.
  • Scott B.
    Scott BecqueAugust 17, 2014
    Here at low tide at 5PM. Best when low tide is at sunrise. Better lighting. Saw 3 gators in 2 days!
  • Evan
    EvanMarch 17, 2013
    Skip Indigo Trail during the day if you want to see wildlife. Drive instead and stop where you want.
  • Christopher L.
    Christopher LongNovember 19, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    Take the guided tour with Don, he is great. This place is a real national treasure.
  • Scott H.
    Scott HelfrichMarch 23, 2013
    Get here during low tide, best time for birding
  • David W.
    David WMay 25, 2013
    only visitor center is open until 10/2013, guided walks of Indigo trail though.
  • Michael K.
    Michael KazisJanuary 24, 2014
    If you're looking to kayak, you'll get the best value if you purchase the tour.
  • Susan
    SusanJuly 12, 2014
    Been here 5+ times
    To see wildlife you need to be patient and QUIET. Stop and be still. The animals only show when it's quiet.
  • Kitty G.
    Kitty GiffordJanuary 20
    Love the volunteer ranger guides here, especially Ken and Ginny.
  • Janet W.
    Janet WilsonMay 18, 2014
    Been here 10+ times
    Go during low tide, early morning or early evening.
  • Patricia K.
    We saw 3 different types of egrets...low tide is best for bird viewing.
  • Lori T.
    Lori TylerMay 6, 2013
    The tram is always worth it! Great information always gained
  • Jon C.
    Jon ClarkFebruary 27, 2014
    Birds. Bike trails. Beautiful sights. A great morning stop.
  • Eileen D.
    Eileen DohenyMarch 5, 2014
    Don't drive you just ho too fast to really see much. Take the tram tour
  • Christopher P.
    Christopher PowisMay 13, 2015
    Download the Discover Nature App to see what wildlife was spotted and where.
  • Mark L.
    Mark LJuly 5, 2013
    Been here 5+ times
    Wilderness Drive & Indigo Trail are CLOSED from May 20th - October 1st 2013.
  • Kinti C.
    Kinti ConroyOctober 16, 2011
    This week they're doing events to celebrate wildlife! lots of free family events too!!
  • Heather M.
    Heather MartinoOctober 18, 2016
    Take a drive at your own pace for $5.00.
  • Chelle W.
    Chelle WaltonSeptember 20, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    Don't miss the free Education Center.
  • Chelle W.
    Chelle WaltonApril 17, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    Don't miss the free education center.
  • Heather M.
    Heather MartinoOctober 18, 2016
    Educational and beautiful.
  • Dulce B.
    Dulce BautistaAugust 31, 2012
    Closed on Fridays (and the 24hrs leading up to an expected hurricane warning)
  • VISIT FLORIDA Family Insider
    Lots of animal out early OR late.
  • Mindy P.
    Mindy PierceMarch 27, 2011
    Go with an older person with a Golden Age pass and get in free!
  • Jonathan L.
    Jonathan LloydDecember 29, 2015
    Indigo trail for gators
  • Patricia K.
    Go at low tide to see birds.
  • Chelle W.
    Chelle WaltonJune 11, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    Check out free family summer programs.
  • Jonathan L.
    Jonathan LloydDecember 29, 2015
    Indigo trail
  • Kim F.
    Kim FoseMarch 9, 2013
    Nice place to drive
  • FamilyFun
    FamilyFunFebruary 15, 2012
    Definitely worth going.
  • Stephey T.
    Stephey TraceyJune 24, 2011
    Go down the kayak trail
  • Jesse B.
    Jesse BraunMay 28, 2012
    Didn't see a single animal besides birds
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