palm trees and sunset in southern california
Nursing Travel April 15, 2022

Travel Nurse’s Guide to Southern California

What could be better than a job in your chosen profession that lets you live, rent-free, in Southern California for three months? The region is a favorite destination for many travel nurses, thanks to the wide array of professional opportunities, diverse cities, and endless opportunities for fun and adventure. A travel nursing assignment in Southern California can open up a world of possibilities!

If you haven’t truly experienced this region before, this Travel Nurse’s Guide to Southern California can serve as a one-stop resource to help you know what to expect, what to do and how to get started on your own SoCal adventure.

Apply Now

Lifestyle benefits of travel nursing in Southern California

Why do nurses want to work in Southern California? Some crave the great weather, the year-round recreation and the laid-back lifestyle. Many have a bucket list of things to see and do. Others are searching for a career opportunity that can help them refine their skills and earn an excellent income. Fortunately, you can find all of that and more—in one travel assignment!

While the locals are paying premium rents, you’ll also enjoy free housing or a healthy stipend to help you live in this desirable region while on assignment.

Other benefits of travel nursing in Southern California:

  • You’ll have hundreds of assignment options. Travel nursing jobs in Southern California are plentiful, encompassing all specialties and types of working environments. And you can choose from locations ranging from downtown Los Angeles or Burbank to Orange County, Santa Barbara, San Diego or Palm Springs.
  • The fun never ends. Southern California is famous for its beaches—and for good reason: they’re spectacular, and each beach community is a unique destination. But spending time at the beach isn’t your only option for fun and relaxation. Enjoy biking? Golf? Tennis? Running? Hiking? Paddleboarding? Shopping? Entertainment? Arts festivals and farmers markets? Fun eateries and world-class dining? Okay, you get the picture.
  • You can set your schedule. Travel nurses can book subsequent assignments but leave a few weeks in between, allowing time to return home or enjoy a vacation before returning to work. You may also be able to choose your shift schedule. Once that is set, be sure to plan some day trips and long weekends to go exploring in the area—along the coast, in the nearby mountains, in the desert, or in another nearby city.
  • Your loved ones can join you. Another benefit of taking a travel nursing assignment in Southern California: you can bring your pets, your significant other or your entire family along to share in the adventure! Just let your recruiter know, because it can affect your housing.

Facilities for Southern California travel assignments

What kind of healthcare facility would you prefer for your next travel nursing job? In Southern California, your choices cover every setting, from inpatient to outpatient to home health. The region is home to some of the nation’s top-rated hospitals and health systems, and a number of ANCC Magnet-designated hospitals. Just ask your recruiter for specific opportunities, or if you have a particular healthcare facility in mind.

AMN Healthcare has travel nurse assignments in:

  • Large academic medical centers
  • Mid-size and smaller hospitals
  • Pediatric hospitals and other specialty facilities
  • Clinics and medical practices
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Home health companies

You can search our extensive jobs database for openings in your travel nurse specialty, including critical care, emergency nursing, labor and delivery, medical-surgical nursing, the dialysis unit, pediatrics, the cardiac catheterization lab, and more. Any specialty certifications and training can increase the demand for your skills.

Ultimately, taking a travel nurse assignment in a Southern California hospital or healthcare organization can boost your career. The experience will make you a more desirable candidate for future jobs, wherever you go.

10 things to do in Southern California

We could leave the star attractions off this list, but they’re well known (and well-loved) for a reason! Don’t miss out on the most popular attractions if they’re calling to you, but make time for some of the lesser-known pursuits that the locals rave about, too. Trust us, this is just a start to all that you will find to see and do in Southern California.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park often tops the list of “places to visit in San Diego” for good reason: not only is it the site of the world-famous San Diego Zoo, but it is also home to 17 (yes, 17!) museums, 19 gardens and cultural institutions, plus some pretty darn good restaurants. And yes, they’re building a Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park, too.

Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island is a small, scenic island off the coast of Los Angeles. Most people take a high-speed ferry to get there. Once you arrive, you can choose from a dizzying array of recreational pursuits including zip-lining, hiking, riding a glass-bottom boat, renting a bike, kayak or a paddleboard, touring the island in your own golf cart, and snorkeling. To really boggle the minds of your friends, consider the open-air Bison Expedition tour. Or you can tour the island’s historic casino and theater, or just wiggle your toes in the sand while enjoying a cocktail at the Descanso Beach Club.

Disneyland & California Adventure

Visiting Disneyland is a given when it comes to fun things to do in SoCal. Whether you love the classics like Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World, or you’re eager to ride the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction, be sure to add Disney to your list! If you’re a superhero fan, you’ll also want to check out Disney’s new Avengers Campus in the adjoining California Adventure Park. Some words of advice: wear comfortable shoes because you’re going to be putting in a lot of steps, and check into Park Hopper tickets to enjoy both parks at a reduced price.

Hollywood Sign

Visiting the iconic Hollywood sign is one of those SoCal experiences that you really have to do at least once. Take one of the three main hiking routes up to the sign so you can get your photo for Instagram fame. You can also get a good view of the sign from the Griffith Observatory, a great place to visit in its own right.

Joshua Tree National Park

You almost can’t believe that Joshua trees are real until you see them in person. These spiky, Dr. Seuss-like plants are members of the Agave family and are native to the Mojave Desert in Southern California. Plan a trip to the desert and go hiking or rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park and see these unusual plants for yourself. If you have time to camp overnight, you’ll be astounded by the wealth of stars overhead, too.

La Jolla Seals

You don’t really need an excuse to visit the picturesque seaside community of La Jolla, in the northern part of San Diego. It is famous for its expansive beaches, scenic views, high-end shopping and incredible restaurants. But if you want an excuse, how about this? The seals and sea lions love to frolic on the shore by the Children’s Pool and the sea caves in La Jolla. They put on quite a show—and it’s free!

Palm Springs Villagefest

Palm Springs is the place to be on Thursday evenings. Every Thursday evening, Palm Canyon Drive becomes a big party. It’s almost not fair to describe Villagefest as a “street fair” because it’s so much more than that. Grab your dinner from one of the food trucks, enjoy the art and culture, pick up a souvenir, and mingle with thousands of other people who are ready to relax and celebrate an early start to the weekend. You can even drop by the Palm Springs Art Museum for free. And if you’re up for a thrilling ride with spectacular views, check out the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, any day of the week; in just 10 minutes, you’ll travel from the desert to the fresh mountain air in Mt. San Jacinto State Park, at 8,500 feet elevation.

Temecula Valley Wineries

Most people automatically assume that all the best wine from California comes from Northern California, but you might be very pleasantly surprised by the quality of wine from the 50-plus wineries of the Temecula Valley in Southern California. Go for a tour, enjoy a few tastings, dine al fresco, or even stay at one of the wine resorts. Feeling really adventurous? Sign up for a hot air balloon tour over the valley and see the vineyards from the sky!

Torrey Pines

If you love spending time in nature, especially if there’s also an ocean view, plan a visit to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in northern San Diego. The 1,500+ acres of protected land on the coast of the Pacific Ocean contain hiking trails and opportunities to see beautiful wildflowers, California quail, and the nation’s rarest pine tree, the Pinus torreyana. Golf enthusiasts may also want to try the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, but you’ll need to book tee times far in advance or make friends with a local who has priority access.

Watts Towers

If you’re in Los Angeles and want to do something a little off the beaten path, consider a visit to the Watts Towers Arts Center in the Watts district. A towering series of sculptures made of steel, wire mesh, and mortar and festooned with glass, porcelain and tile, the Watts Towers were built by Sam Rodia, who actually named his creation “Nuestro Pueblo.” The inside tours have been temporarily halted for restoration, but you can still take a tour around the outside.

As noted, this list is just a taste of all the fun and attractions waiting for you in Southern California. For more ideas, check out

See Also
California Dreaming: A Guide to Thriving as a Travel Nurse in the Golden State Part 2


Getting started as a travel nurse in Southern California

Ready to experience Southern California for yourself? As the nation’s premier travel nursing agency, AMN Healthcare will focus on your priorities, connect you with the ideal job, take care of all the details to get you started, and offer support throughout your assignment.

Here are just a few reasons to consider working with AMN Healthcare:

  • You’ll have access to the largest database of California travel nursing jobs. In fact, we have exclusive contracts with a number of the state’s leading healthcare organizations.
  • You can rely on our expertise. We’ve been helping travel nurses for more than 35 years, and have long-standing relationships with facilities throughout all 50 states. We have also earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for our staffing services, and our team is continually working to earn your trust.
  • We make it easy for you. Once you’re signed up, the AMN Passport app makes it easy to search for jobs, book assignments, connect with your recruiter, and manage everything from your schedule to your paycheck.
  • You’ll have the reassurance of 24/7 clinical support. If you run into a question or issue on the job, you can call our clinical team and receive urgent assistance at any time of day or night.
  • You’ll enjoy licensure assistance. Getting your RN license in a new state can be tedious, and California currently has a longer-than-average waiting time. Luckily, our experienced team makes it as easy and efficient as possible, and we may even pay your licensure fees! We could even find you a contract in another state while you are waiting for your California license.
  • Your housing is covered. Our housing specialists can secure safe, private, furnished accommodations close to your assignment facility, and we’ll pick up the tab. Or you can take a stipend and find your own housing—whatever works best for you. We can also help find pet-friendly accommodations, or seek out a larger place for you and your family.
  • You’ll have expert guidance every step of the way. As an AMN Healthcare travel nurse, you’ll have a personal recruiter and robust support team that ensures you have everything you need. From licensing and credentialing to housing and payroll, we have specialists who can help. And your recruiter will always be there to talk to, troubleshoot any issues, and provide support.

You’ll also enjoy excellent compensation and benefits with AMN Healthcare, including:

  • Premium health benefits, including PPO and HMO options, as well as life insurance, vision insurance, and disability insurance – for you and your family. And coverage starts on Day One.
  • Reimbursements for travel expenses, including daily stipends.
  • Retirement savings, with a generous 401(k) matching program.
  • Free continuing education units (CEUs).
  • Guaranteed hours for many assignments. Ask about your specific contract.

Take the first step

Interested in working as a travel nurse in Southern California? Visit AMN Healthcare job search page to find an assignment that’s a great fit for you. You can also apply online to get started right away.

Download the Complete CityGuide below:


Additional Nursing Resources:

Latest News

Take the first step to starting your new career.

Authorized to work in the US? *
Job Type Interest *
Have you been on an Interim engagement with AMN before? *
Are you currently employed or on an active Interim engagement? *

How much notice would you have to give? *

How much notice would you have to give? *

What date are you available to start an Interim engagement? *

What date are you available to start an Interim engagement? *

* Indicates Required Fields


I agree to receive emails, automated text messages and phone calls (including calls that contain prerecorded content) from and on behalf of AMN Healthcare, and affiliates. {{show_more}} I understand these messages will be to the email or phone number provided, and will be about employment opportunities, positions in which I’ve been placed, and my employment with AMN companies. See privacy policy or cookie policy for more details.

* Indicates Required Fields


I agree to receive emails, automated text messages and phone calls (including calls that contain prerecorded content) from and on behalf of AMN Healthcare, and affiliates. {{show_more}} I understand these messages will be to the email or phone number provided, and will be about employment opportunities, positions in which I’ve been placed, and my employment with AMN companies. See privacy policy or cookie policy for more details.

Complete Your Application!
Continue to NurseFinders to complete your application and profile.