Saturday, June 9, 2012

Santee Lakes - Best Staycation in Santee, California

Santee, California, is located eighteen miles west of La Jolla, just east of the foothills. True, we don't have the Pacific ocean, but we do have the Santee Lakes. What began as a grey water reclamation project for irrigation quickly evolved into a recreation and campground facility which was opened to the public in 1961. This spring, The Santee Patch, a local activities website, ran a poll naming Santee Lakes "The Best Staycation" in East County.

Park and Recreation supervisor, Cindy Smith, is excited about the park renovations made over the last several years. There is a sidewalk that circuits four of the lakes in the "day use" part of the park, which local walkers and moms with strollers make daily use of, as well as children learning to ride their bikes. There are three new picnic shelters under construction, and a new playground is being built on Lake 1 to supplement the modern playground between Lakes 3 and 4 built five years ago.

Ms. Smith proudly reports that the Santee Lakes staff  has an aggressive facility improvement blueprint called the 21/21 Plan that will position the park for continued success in the twenty-first century. There are twenty-one projects planned at an estimated combined cost of ten million dollars.

Admission to the park is $3 per car on weekdays and $5 on the weekends. Fishing is a popular pastime with youngsters and adults alike. Several of the lakes are stocked regularly with trout and catfish. A one day adult permit for ages 16 and over is $9/day, while a junior permit is $6/day. An annual permit is also available for avid fisherman.

A kid favorite at the park is the Sprayground. This recent addition is a great way for children under thirteen to beat the summer heat. A $2 wrist band for each child can be purchased from the entrance kiosk. Paddle boats and canoes are available for rental at the General Store and can be found on Lake 5. Picnic areas are popular and can be reserved for family use or for group events. They get heavy use on the weekends. The park also has something that reminds me of my youth - horseshoe pits.

Santee Lakes also provides overnight and weekly recreational vehicle and tent sites which get steady use from out of town visitors and "snowbirds" in the winter. Three floating cabins and seven lakefront cabins, built last year on Lake 7, have become so popular that there is a six month waiting list for reservations, so plan ahead.

To contact Santee Lakes, call (619) 596-3141 or email them at Check out their link below for more information.