* Don't miss J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the ideal place to experience the natural habitat of the Sanibel Island's wading birds, alligators and wildlife. You can walk, bicycle, drive or kayak through the refuge. If you want to sit back and enjoy the visit without effort, however, take the tram and allow your guide to point out the sights that most people never get to see. The 6,300 acres of this refuge contain more than 293 species of birds, more than 50 different types of reptiles and 32 species of mammals. You're sure to come away with a good understanding of "Ding" Darling's mission and an appreciation for our natural surroundings. Access to the Refuge, parking and an interpretative center operated by the Friends of Ding Darling is at One Wildlife Drive off Sanibel-Captiva Road.
* Sanibel Island is renowned for its shell-collecting beaches. Exquisite shells wash ashore along the 14 miles of beach hugging the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Sanibel Arms West's own Sanibel beach has been known to have some of the best shelling in North America. And if you've always marveled at those glistening gems that adorn the beaches, be sure to visit the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum located at the west end of the island at 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road. It's a must for shell enthusiasts. The museum is truly unique, as it is home to thousands of local and fossilized shells from all over the world, and the layout design is of a nautilus shell! You'll come away with tips on what to look for and how to preserve your collection. Admission is only $6 for adults 17 and older, $3 for children 5-16, and free for ages 4 and under.
* C.R.O.W. (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) is Sanibel's wildlife rehabilitation hospital. More than 3,400 native animals, including 160 different wildlife species, are treated there. Its mission is not only to care for sick and injured wildlife, but also to educate the public on the necessity of preserving wildlife and living in peace with the animals of Sanibel and Captiva. The center offers an educational presentation Monday-Friday year-round at 11:00am and Sundays at 1:00pm from Thanksgiving-Easter. The center requests a $5 donation from visitors 13 and older. C.R.O.W. is located at 3883 Sanibel-Captiva Road.
* BIG Arts, which is named for the Barrier Islands Group for Arts, was established in 1979. It has evolved into the center of culture for the island's visitors and residents alike. It goes beyond the world of visual arts to encompass music, dance, theater and more, frequently featuring world performers. While on the premises, visit the Phillips Gallery for its art collection, enjoy a concert at Schein Hall, or ask about taking a class! BIG Arts offers numerous workshops and art-oriented programs.
* The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater is a free-standing theatrical performance space that offers a season of entertaining, light, island shows. It recently was merged with BIG Arts to offer an expanded menu of theater and music.
* Rain checks? Here's one. Sanibel has its own Island Cinema that presents new releases in an intimate setting of comfortable lounge-type seats. The sound system is awesome. Preview current and coming films at www.islandcinema.com.