Top-notch fishing, boating and golfing amidst the vast beauty of Lake Marion - it's a recipe for high adventure that annually lures thousands of sporting enthusiasts to the Santee area. While the old-school fish camps are favorites among those seeking casual, unfussy lodging, some folks prefer a few more creature comforts. Suit yourself by beginning and ending your day in upscale luxury, down-home comfort or something in-between.
After a day of reeling in big bass or working up a sweat on the greens, you'll be glad to retreat to Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast Inn in nearby Orangeburg. Elegantly appointed, themed rooms invite you to settle back and recharge your batteries in the lap of Southern luxury. Fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, comfy robes, private baths and plush bedding will relax and reinvigorate - you'll be refreshed and ready for more angling, golfing and other outdoor pursuits the next morning.
Innkeepers Rachelle and Fred Holmes have overlooked no detail when it comes to the perfect Santee vacation and easily accommodate individuals, families and groups. Ask them about day trips to nearby points of interest and they'll guide you to the area's best walking and hiking trails, horseback riding, boating, fishing, bird watching and historic sites. Fred is also known for his mad culinary skills, so treat yourself to one of his sumptuous Southern breakfasts or plan your vacation so you're there for the down-home meal offered the first Friday of each month. The Low Country Shrimp and Garlic Cheese Grits is a rousing favorite.
When driving Interstate 95 through Santee, it's hard not to notice the plantation-style façade of Clark's Inn & Restaurant just off exit 98. This family owned gem, in operation since 1946, is a favorite stop-over for weary travelers as well as anglers and golfers. Guest rooms, luxury suites and one-bedroom villas are beautifully furnished and designed for comfort. Inquire about fishing or golfing packages to suit your particular needs. There's a gym on the premises as well as a licensed massage therapist to help you work out those casting or putting kinks. Tesla driver? Get a charge at one of the inn's six Supercharger stalls.
Dining shares the spotlight at Clark's. The restaurant décor beckons with warm woods, deep colors and plush draperies. Enjoy full country breakfasts with homemade biscuits, juicy burgers, expertly grilled steaks, succulent baked chicken and fresh seafood prepared by the skilled kitchen staff. Popular with locals, the English-style pub is well-stocked with fine wines, imports and craft beers, and your favorite cocktails are just a pour and a shake away. Once 4 p.m. hits, the pub fills up quickly, so arrive early to snag a seat. It's a place where you'll want to linger and share a few fishing or golf tales before hitting the sack. And do check out the fine collectible and souvenirs at the inn's gift shop, Whimsy. Take back something lovely for your home or delight the child in your life with a novelty toy.
Channel the ocean while staying on the shores of Lake Marion. The brightly colored cottages at Lakeside Marina and Resort in Eutawville have a beachy vibe the whole family will love. With palm-studded grounds, plenty of hammocks, an ample-size hot tub and sandy shoreline, this lodging option is designed for all-around vacation enjoyment. There's a fishing pier, swimming area, playground and movie rental service. Reserve a boat, take a complimentary cruise in a kayak or test your balance on a paddleboard. A brand new fleet of jet skis, offered onsite by Lake Marion Water Sports, is your ticket to exciting lake adventure.
One- and two-bedroom cottage options are available as well as a large suite. Each has a tastefully appointed, fully equipped kitchen for cooking up your own family meals. (There are several restaurants in the area if cooking isn't on your vacation itinerary.) Grills and bicycles round out the amenities. For a fuller appreciation of lake life, stay in the newly renovated houseboat docked in the marina. It comes complete with creature comforts such as a flat-screen television, equipped kitchen, private bedroom and a sleeping loft for the kids. And don't leave Spot behind - this is a pet-friendly property; inquire about additional fees. Speaking of animals, Lakeside is rich with wildlife, including a fun-to-watch group of goats and chickens living on the small island across from the property. Paddle over with the kids for a closer look.
If you love the RV life, you'll appreciate this lovely, well-maintained travel park conveniently located off I-95. But you don't have to have an RV to experience the waterfront beauty of Palmetto Shores. A clutch of comfy, cozy cabins - all situated waterfront or with water views - makes this an attractive, affordable vacation option for families, couples and individuals. One-, two- or three-bedroom cabins are neat as a pin, tastefully decorated and check-in ready. Bring your suitcase, linens and groceries, and let your vacation begin!
The proprietors, three women who frequented the property when it was under other ownership, have breathed new life into the park, which now features a snack shop with homemade pizza and hand-dipped ice cream, a small arcade and pool area with a lazy river and fun zone. There's also a playground, boat dock, picnic area, fishing pond and mini-golf. Don't feel like cooking? Head to the Fish Market and Grill at Palmetto Shores, a full-service restaurant serving fresh fish, steaks and local produce.
But the best amenity of all is right outside your cabin door. Soak up a showy sunset as you sit beneath the cooling whir of a ceiling fan on the screened-in porch - a mosquito-free, lake spectacle that will take your breath away.