California’s Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve


Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is one of the best staycation spots and recreation preserve in California. Kids and adults are definitely going to have fun during their stay with so many recreational activities.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District decided to build Santee Lakes to help show the public the promise and plausibility of water recycling. They recycle and reduce waste have a water stream with minimal processing costs. This helps the local increase their water supply. With this, tons of architects, engineers, government officials and urban planners worldwide visit Santee Lakes to see the good it has to offer.

So what are the activities awaiting in Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve? See them all here.

The Park

Santee Lakes features one of the best award winning Park in California. They strive to showcase the best facilities and amenities for all guests and campers.

The park is open every day with tons of activities for all ages like bike rentals, fishing, boating, and camping. Kids can have a good time in one of their seven playgrounds including the Sprayground and Boulder Island.

Those who want to enjoy some quiet time can set up a picnic under one of our cool gazebos all year round! Parents and kids will surely make some good memories as they experience different activities in the park.

If you plan to regularly visit the park on different occasions throughout the year, you may opt to get the Annual Parking Permit for $75 at the Park Office. They also offer special discounts in different seasons of the year. This will be a huge discount to enjoy the perks of the park!

Make sure you don’t bring pets in the Park because Santee Lakes does not allow pets.


Santee Lakes offer the perfect spot for the whole family to enjoy. Parents are encouraged to bring their kids for a week or weekend full of adventure.

Santee Lakes is proud to showcase their award-winning Campground located in the foothills of Santee. There are about 300 campsites to choose from, all equipped with free WiFi access and cable TV. Registered campers get the benefit of fishing exclusively in Lake 6 and 7 because these are not open to day guests. The campsite is just 20 minutes away from the big attractions in San Diego. It is definitely a great spot to spend some time in.

Camping at Santee Lakes helps promote the reduction of environmental impacts. All facilities in the area are run with the help of more than four acres of solar panels. These solar panels help produce almost 50% of the power the entire Park and Campground need every day!

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is recently awarded the national Plan-it Green Award for their efforts to help protect the environment.


They are 7 lakes in the area regularly stocked with 1,000-lb Catfish and seasonal 1,000-lb Rainbow Trout. Some lakes are also filled with Bass and Bluegill. Regular day fishing could be done in Lakes 1 to 5, while Lakes 6 and 7 are only designated for registered campers.

You don’t need to get a State Fishing license to fish in Santee Lakes. All you need to do is get a permit from the General Store inside the lake’s premises.

However, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is imposing some important restrictions due to the presence of invasive Quagga Mussels in several lakes in California and San Diego County. These mussels vary in size from microscopic to fingernail length. Quagga Mussels are very active and attach themselves to any kind of hard surface. These invasive mussels create significant negative impacts on the lakes’ water systems. Furthermore, it disrupts the natural food chain by releasing toxic chemicals that affect other aquatic species.

Santee Lakes has to strictly impose rules in banning the use of personal watercraft, personal live bait and containers, fish finders, floating catch buckets, and other potential contaminants. All fishing equipment should only come from Santee Lakes General Store and would be carefully inspected by their staff.

Santee Wildlife

There are several types of wildlife calling Santee Lakes their home. The most diverse wildlife present in the area is the vast species and bird population. There are over 200 different kinds of bird species that live or simply pass by to avoid the winter.


Santee Lakes offers seven waterfront and three floating cabins that guests can choose from.

Waterfront Cabins are equipped with beds and mattress good for 6 people, kitchen,  bathroom, living room, and outdoor amenities. These outdoor amenities include a fire ring to build a cozy campfire and shared pedal boats for a ride around the lake.

Floating Cabins have the same indoor amenities as the waterfront cabins but registered guests in here have the benefit of a personal pedal boat. Furthermore, it has a large porch with chairs and tables where you can fish right in front of your carbon.

These are really relaxing views to enjoy! Just make sure to check the list of what you should bring in case you book a stay in one of their cabins.

Local Attraction

Santee Lakes is just around several attractions to enjoy for the whole family. Just 20 minutes on the road from Santee Lakes will lead you to the best attractions in California. You can visit these attractions during your stay at Santee Lakes Recreation Reserve. Here are some of the local attractions in and near Santee:

  • Balboa Park and Museums
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Disneyland
  • Barona Resort & Casino
  • Belmont Park and Mission Beach
  • Embarcadero or San Diego Bay
  • Gaslamp
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Coronado Island
  • Legoland
  • Old Town State Historic Park
  • Seaport Village
  • Qualcomm Stadium
  • Sea World
  • San Diego Chargers
  • Tijuana
  • Viejas
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Torrey Pines St. Natural Reserve
  • San Diego Zoo Safari
  • Mission Trails Rgnl. Park Visitor Center


The success of Santee Lake is mainly thanks to the hard work of their paid staff and volunteers. The volunteers make up 60% of the workforce of the whole park! The volunteers help implement rules and regulations and help in the overall maintenance of Santee Lake. Of course, volunteers get many benefits like free car parking, fun use of amenities as they assist guests and they get to experience the beauty of Santee Lake.

If you want to spend some great time with your family and friends away from the busy and stressful city, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is the best place for you. It will keep you away from trouble and bring the peace out of your inner soul. People of all ages will definitely have fun during their stay. Even grandparents can do some fishing and boating activities. If kids are looking for more fun, you can bring them to local attractions that are just a few minutes away.

Santee Lakes is surely the perfect spot to spend your precious time with the people you love.


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