Travel Nursing Updated December 11, 2023

By Jennifer Larson, contributor

Top Winter Destinations for Travel Nurses

As winter blankets the world in a glistening tapestry of snow and frost, travel nurses seeking a unique and memorable experience have a plethora of enticing destinations to consider. From charming alpine villages nestled in the heart of snow-covered mountains to vibrant cities that come alive with winter festivals. In this guide, we explore the top winter destinations that beckon to travel nurses, offering not only career opportunities but also the chance to embrace the magic of winter in diverse and captivating settings.

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Like Warm Winters? Try These Travel Nursing Destinations

1. California

California is always a leading destination for travel nurses, with plentiful jobs available--from picturesque towns in the north to the San Francisco Bay Area down to San Diego, and almost everywhere in between. Here are a few fun things to do if you decide to take a travel nursing job in California this winter.

Visit Palm Springs

If there’s one picture-perfect travel nursing destination for people who love warm weather, it’s sunny Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. Visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert; eat, drink and be merry at trendy downtown Palm Springs restaurants like Workshop Kitchen + Bar or Tac/Quila; soak in a natural mineral spa at one of the resorts in Desert Hot Springs; or play golf at one of the 100+ golf courses in the greater Palm Springs area.

Go Whale Watching in San Diego

San Diego is known for its mild, temperate weather year-round, which means that you can indulge in many of its famous outdoor activities year-round, too. Put on a light jacket and take a whale-watching cruise this winter, since winter is the best chance to get a good look at those majestic, migrating gray whales.

Visit wine country. Less traffic and smaller crowds are reasons enough to visit Napa, Sonoma, and other California counties famous for their wine and wineries in the winter. And if you’re in California in January, head to northern Sonoma County for Winter Wineland in mid-January for a specialized wine tasting experience with more than 50 participating wineries.

Bonus: If you love your warm winter weather but you’re not opposed to small doses of snow and ice, we have some good news for you. There is plenty of cold-weather fun to be had here, too. The ski resorts in Lake Tahoe have already begun opening, and a banner ski season is ahead! In fact, you can find several ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and even some in Southern California. So, depending on the location of your travel nursing assignment, you should be able to fit some skiing or other winter sports on your days off.

2. Florida

Does anything say “warm winter weather” more than “trip to Florida”? Throughout the season, travel nurses in Florida have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Sunshine State.

Tour St. Augustine

Historic St. Augustine is worth visiting any time of year, but the temperatures are a lot more pleasant in winter than in the summer! One can't-miss event is St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights, which brightens the night with 3 million twinkling white lights from November 20 through January 30. You can even take a trolley or water tour to catch the lights. Other destinations that might intrigue you include the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum and the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum.

Visit the Mouse

If you’re a Disney-phile, the winter really is prime season for visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando. There’s always something exciting going on. If you’re working a travel nursing job in Florida this winter: make some time to visit EPCOT for the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, which is slated to run from Jan. 14 through Feb. 21. One note: It’s always helpful to do a little advanced planning and read up on the health and safety measures, too, when you’re planning a Disney trip.

3. Texas

Travel nursing assignments in Texas are a great way to spend the winter season.

Soak it Up in South Padre

If your idea of the perfect winter getaway is the beach, consider a road trip to Texas’ South Padre Island during your travel nursing assignment in Texas. Go horseback riding on the beach, rent a paddleboard, go fishing, take a dolphin-watching cruise, or just park yourself in the sand and relax. (Don’t forget your sunscreen.) Plus, in the winter, you won’t have to compete with spring breakers for prime beach real estate.

Take in Some Live Music in Austin

Most people automatically think of the iconic South by Southwest (SXSW) festival when they think of Austin. And, after a virtual offering in 2021, it’s coming up again soon this spring! But if you’re working in or near Austin, there’s another cultural event coming up sooner that you don’t want to miss: Free Week. This year’s Free Week music festival is scheduled for January 6-9 at venues all over Austin.

Hot Spots for Skiing, Nightlife and More

One of the many benefits of travel nursing is choosing when and where you go on assignment. Traveling nurses have the flexibility to relocate to desirable areas, like in or near top ski destinations, and work there for a season or more. If you’re thinking about your next assignment or considering relocating for the holiday season, now is the time to search and explore.

1. Colorado

Vail is One of the Best Winter Resorts

This destination also offers one of the largest ski areas in all of the United States. There is also free transportation throughout the town, heated walkways and nonstop nightlife action. As the locals like to say, “Ski hard; play hard.” With the after-hours scene centered at the Bavarian-themed town centers of Vail Village and Lionshead Village, après ski options can include a laid-back brewery, or a live music venue featuring cocktails and dancing. Just an hour and a half west of Denver, Vail is a perfect Colorado travel nursing destination!

Aspen, Where A Mountain Advanture Awaits You

Not only is the skiing/snowboarding in Aspen astounding, the nightlife is too. With four different mountains to choose from (Aspen Mountain, Highlands, Snow Mass and Buttermilk), there is no shortage of awesome options to explore on your days off. Aspen Mountain (aka Ajax Mountain) and Highlands offer up the more challenging runs, but Snowmass has very cool terrain parks. Buttermilk is considered the least challenging mountain but does provide awesome pipes. With more than 100 bars/nightclubs to choose from, Aspen is great for single travel nurses, or those traveling with a significant other, who are looking to enjoy themselves during their assignment. For live music, try Belly Up, Limelight Lounge, or Chair 9, and if you want to really dance, check out Escobar. For a laid-back but lively meal and cocktail, look into Ajax Tavern or Nest Public House.

2. California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe an Alpine Playground

If you are based in California or Nevada and you want beginners or intermediate-to-expert runs, don’t overlook Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly resort, which features 4,800 skiable acres. You also have views of the glorious lake itself as you’re skiing or snowboarding down the hills. When it’s after hours, you’ll appreciate the fact that part of Lake Tahoe is in Nevada, including Stateline, which has legalized gambling. This allows for fun casinos to dot the town, including Harvey’s (located right next to Heavenly), Harrah’s and Hard Rock. Also check out Stateline’s party-scene dance clubs, including Vex and Peek, or head into Himmel Haus for delicious German beers and grub. With the numerous bars/clubs, you might even want to book the official “Tahoe Club Crawl,” and hit up the most popular ones.

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