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The 7 Top States for Travel Nurses (Winter)

NurseJournal Staff
Updated March 8, 2023
    Choosing a winter travel assignment can be overwhelming. Narrow your choices based on scenery, weather, activities, and nursing care.
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    • Winter travel nurse assignments don’t have to include cold weather — unless that’s your preference.
    • Recreational activities, weather, scenery, and nursing care opportunities are all great factors to help you choose your next assignment.
    • As you prepare for your winter travel assignment, make a plan for the holidays.

    Where do you want to travel this winter? Do you want to work at a world-class healthcare facility? Would you like to ski, hike, or snorkel during your next assignment? Is regional cuisine a factor in your decision, or is it all about the weather?

    As you’re considering your next assignment over the winter months, there is a lot to think about. We have culled the seven best states for travel nurses during the winter months based on factors that may interest you.

    These states were chosen based on scenery, weather, and events during the winter season.

    7 Best States for a Winter Travel Nurse Assignment

    We looked at winter travel options for travel nurses and evaluated states based on area events, healthcare centers, scenery, and recreational activities. We believe we’ve found the seven best states for your next winter travel assignment, in no particular order.

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    1. Connecticut

    In Connecticut, the temperatures dip down well below freezing during the winter months. Snow accumulation is lower along the coast, averaging nearly 30 inches. Inland areas can reach up to 50 inches during the winter months.

    The state takes full advantage of the snow. There is plenty of downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. The history and piles of snow add something special to the Christmas celebrations.

    Connecticut is also home to a few firsts: the first hamburger, the Polaroid camera, helicopters, and color television. Yale New Haven Hospital is ranked No. 1 in the state, having nine specialties and eight children’s specialties nationally ranked. You may also appreciate that Boston and New York City are short distances away.

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    2. Washington

    Washington ranks among the best states for travel nurses for the recreational and environmental diversity you’ll find. The state borders the western edge of Canada, just south of Vancouver. The overnight temperatures dip just below freezing throughout December and January. The area enjoys relatively mild weather and little snowfall.

    There are plenty of outdoor activities against the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Northwest. For example, Cape Flattery is an epic display of beauty and a natural sanctuary, filled with coves and beautiful hiking trails. It is the furthest north you can go in the U.S. and belongs to the Makah Tribe, with its own laws and regulations.

    U.S. News ranks the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle in the top spot out of all hospitals in Washington, with seven nationally ranked and four high-performing specialties. Seattle also has great food, culture, and lots of great outdoor activities. Art galleries, museums, and national parks are available around Seattle.

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    3. New York

    The temperatures in New York state and New York City are low enough to satisfy any cold-weather aficionado. The average temperatures are lowest in January, ranging from 7°F to 40°F depending on the area.

    Travel nurses can enjoy traditional winter activities like snowmobiling, skiing, and ice skating. Or you could try dog sledding, snowkiting, or riding the winter Sky Flyer Mountain Roller Coaster.

    If you’re looking for holiday activities, then the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular, and shopping in Manhattan may scratch your itch.

    The top five hospitals are all nationally ranked in at least nine specialties, and four are located in Manhattan with the fifth along the Northshore of Long Island. New York has something to offer everyone no matter what time of the year.

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    4. Illinois

    Illinois is likely best known as the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and Chicago. Also called the Windy City, temperatures in Chicago during the winter average between 12°F-30°F.

    Other interesting cities include Galena, known for its well-preserved 19th-century buildings, and Springfield, located in the middle of the state and north of St. Louis.

    Illinois offers national and state parks that are rich in history, opera, ballet, concerts, and many snow-related activities. Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are home to the top-ranked 15 hospitals in the state. It is likely that no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Chicago.

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    5. Colorado

    The average temperatures in Colorado during January are a bit of a puzzle. They can range from -7°F at night to 45°F during the day. The mountain ranges and geography contribute to the big temperature drops at night.

    Skiers and snowboarders love the Colorado slopes, but there is much more to enjoy in Colorado during the winter months. Consider soaking in an all-natural, mineral-water hot spring, taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride, snowmobiling across miles of trails, or ice climbing frozen waterfalls.

    Aurora, Loveland, and Denver are home to the top three ranked hospitals in the state, offering nurses who are looking for recreation, scenery, and challenging medical care a variety of locations.

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    6. Florida

    Winter travel doesn’t have to include snow and ice. In Florida, the average temperature hovers between 70°F and 80°F from December through March. If you are a warm-weather person, then Florida may be your best choice. The state is 447 miles long and 361 miles across the panhandle in the northern part of the state.

    There is a lot to explore within Florida’s borders, including the Disney theme park, boating, fishing, snorkeling, pristine beaches, and impressive national parks. The Everglades encompasses 1.5 million acres or consider the only air-filled cave open to the public at Florida Caverns State Park.

    The state also offers travel nurses the option to work in urban or rural areas, where you can challenge your nursing skills. Mayo Clinic — Jacksonville is the No. 1 ranked hospital in Florida according to U.S. News. AdventHealth Orlando and Tampa General come in a close second and third.

    Spread across the state, travel nurses can enjoy top-notch hospital work, warm weather, and beautiful beaches throughout the winter months.

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    7. Arizona

    Though Arizona may not experience extreme winter temperatures, it still offers downhill skiing at Flagstaff’s Snowbowl. Located seven miles outside of Flagstaff, the resort receives roughly 260 inches of snowfall each year.

    The temperatures range from 55°F to 69°F in December. The mild weather may not be conducive to outdoor swimming, but golfers will find the weather perfect to enjoy some of the best courses in the nation in the Phoenix area.

    The trip from Phoenix to Flagstaff is about 2.5 hours, during which you pass through Coconino National Forest. Las Vegas and San Diego are short distances away.

    Mayo Clinic Phoenix is ranked No. 1 in the state by U.S. News. The second and third place hospitals are also located in Phoenix. The remaining areas in Arizona offer nurses the opportunity to work with rural populations or on Indian Reservations.

    Tips for Travel Nurses

    No matter where you plan to travel, it’s important to prepare yourself as a travel nurse and your home for the weeks you’ll be spending working on the road. Begin by gaining any nursing specialty experience and certification you may need. This gives you an added advantage when you choose your next assignment.

    Keep excellent records of your expenses and income. This comes in handy during tax season. If you can’t document it, then you can’t deduct it. Finally, be sure to prepare a support system for yourself before you leave. Commit to routinely video chatting with friends and family to help you feel connected when you’re away from home.

    Network with other travel nurses you may meet in person during your travels. Friends you make online can become in-person friends in foreign cities, which helps reduce your loneliness. Finally, connect with your colleagues at work. Join in on the outings and lunches. If you aren’t invited, then plan an event and invite them.