J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Explore this breath-taking famous wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve that provides a glimpse of rare migratory birds and the many types of fauna that call Sanibel home. One of the main highlights of visiting Sanibel is Ding Darling, a 6,300 acre wildlife preserve which is home to 238 species of birds, 50 types of reptiles and 32 different kinds of mammals. You can experience the refuge through a guided tram tour or driving your car through Wildlife Drive. There are walking and biking paths and an excellent educational center. At nearby Tarpon Bay Explorers, rent kayaks, canoes or paddleboards and explore their paddling trails (keep your fingers crossed that you see a live seahorse), or take a guided cruise on Tarpon Bay, which is populated with dolphins and manatee. 

Sanibel Historical Museum

The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village has 10 vintage properties on-site, including the Sanibel Packing House from 1900 – and Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room from 1926. Volunteer docents at the museum have a world of information on Sanibel settlers from the 1800s, plus the early Calusa Indians and Spanish explorers. An interactive map will guide you along Sanibel’s Heritage Trail.

Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum has operated since 1995 as a reference center for national and international shell enthusiasts. It features more than 30 exhibits of mollusks from around the world. It deservedly holds title to being the only museum in the world totally dedicated to shells. Collections include shell habitat, shells in art and history, rare specimens, fossil shells, common southwest Florida shells and many more. One of the many features is a learning lab, including a tank with indigenous mollusks. Renovation is underway to the façade and front entrance to make room for additional aquariums and increased exhibit and program space.

Sanibel-Captiva Chamber Visitor’s Center

A must stop for a complete list of the many attractions on Sanibel, the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center is a wonderful resource for helpful information. Chamber volunteers can also recommend restaurants to try, stores to visit, special events to attend and other information such as the location of the bike paths and where to rent fishing gear. The recently renovated Visitor’s Center also features new, interactive displays for self-help and questions.

Sanibel Attractions Map

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