Every year, the buzz around the island returns to one of the largest sanibel events of early Fall, Ding Darling Days. We invite families and friends from near and far to join us and our island community to celebrate our area’s largest preserve, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, with a weeklong family-friendly event that will allow you to soak up Sanibel’s beauty and wildlife nonstop.

Ding Darling Days, a truly a unique Sanibel experience, starts off on October 15 and lasts for one whole week that is chock full of eco-activities where guests will be treated to complimentary tram tours, wildlife presentations, kid crafts, hot dogs and more! Don’t forget about the numerous opportunities to birdwatch, boat, paddle board, kayak and more to keep visitors both young and old entertained, but with a healthy dose of fun education along the way.  This week will culminate on Saturday, October 21, also Conservation Art Day which celebrates the Federal Duck Stamp Winners.  Additionally, other artists, cartooning and a very special refuge photography tram tour will highlight the life and works of the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Ding Darling, the namesake of the refuge itself.  

J.N. “Ding” Darling was the force behind the creation of the refuge and is celebrated through the work of the park. He actually blocked the sale of the property in 1945 and lobbied to get Harry S. Truman to sign the executive order creating the refuge. In 1967, the refuge was renamed to honor Darling. The park is comprised of 6,400 acres of mangrove forest, marsh, hammocks and submerged seagrass beds– all of which creates the perfect eco-system for native flora and fauna of Sanibel.

Take a peek and review the fantastic list of activities that you and your family can do throughout this great week. Each year, Ding Darling Days gets bigger and better as more visiting guests discover just how much fun and varied the week’s activities really are!