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A Weekend on the Water at Santee State Park

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Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.
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Nestled along the shores of Lake Marion, Santee State Park is one of South Carolina's premier camping and fishing destinations. Whether you're looking for a peaceful getaway in the great outdoors or exciting adventures the whole family can enjoy, Santee State Park is the perfect place for you.

Weekend AccommodationsThere are two different campgrounds found on the east and west ends of the park. Each individual camp site comes with a picnic table and both water and electrical hookups. Restrooms and showers are conveniently located nearby all campsites.

If you'd rather spend the night indoors, you can book a stay in one of the park's cozy rondette cabins that sit along the water's edge. Cabins include two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, living room and a patio with a grill and picnic table. The 10 pier cabins overlooking Lake Marion are the most popular among visitors, offering beautiful views and fishing just a few feet from your front door!

For more information on camping and lodging at Santee State Park, click here.

Arrive Friday EveningBefore arriving and setting up camp at the park, be sure to stop by a local grocery store to stock up on some snacks and food to grill or roast over the fire. You can also find a few grocery items as well as firewood at the park store, Cypress Landing.

SaturdayThere's a number of different ways to fill your day with excitement at Santee State Park. With six picnic shelters located throughout the park, it's easy to plan meals around your adventures and not the other way around. You can reserve a picnic shelter for a fee, but unreserved shelters may be used on a first-come-first-serve basis at no cost.

One of the most popular activities in the park is fishing, as Lake Marion is known for having an abundance of bass, catfish, bream and crappie. There is a handicap-accessible fishing pier by the park store, where visitors can fish at anytime of the day. This is a great place to cast a line and enjoy the morning sunrise. If you don't have a South Carolina fishing license, you can purchase one at the park's visitor center.

Santee State Park's signature attraction is the flooded cypress forest found in the middle of Lake Marion. Fisheagle Tours offers scenic boat tours that begin at the park's main dock and take you through the flooded cypress forest and other headwaters of the lake. Along the way, tour guides will highlight the history of the lake and point out local wildlife that may include alligators, osprey, wood ducks, turtles, herons and more! If you'd rather do some exploring on your own, there are kayak, canoe and SUP rentals available at the park from Nature Adventure Outfitters. For those bringing their own boat, the park has two boat ramps with lake access.

Swimming on the lake is permitted, and one of the most popular places to cool off is a little beach found right near the Cypress View Campground.

While there's plenty to explore on the lake, there are also many hidden gems to discover on land. The park has three nature trails where you'll come across everything from thick wooded forests and white-tailed deer to wild azaleas and limestone sinkholes. Be sure to check out the Sinkhole Pond Trail, where you can see the park's limestone sinkhole pond and learn about how it was formed.

Other daytime attractions include a tennis court by the visitor center, a 7.5-mile biking trail with picturesque views of the lake, three playgrounds and several different geocaches hidden throughout the park. For more information on geocaches, check out the official geocaching website.

Night fishing for catfish is a popular activity among the locals and visitors. Lake Marion is known for having very large catfish, and the cooler waters at night can increase your chances of reeling one in!

Sitting around a campfire or enjoying the stars at night is another perfect end to an adventurous day.

SundayBefore packing up your gear and hitting the road, enjoy a relaxed stroll down the Limestone Nature Trail. This easy mile-long loop is filled with beautiful wildflowers and local wildlife including white-tailed deer, rabbits, ospreys, red-headed woodpeckers and more.

Staff Writer
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.