The following is a list of the best weather states in the United States based upon factors like annual sunshine levels, annual rain and snow totals, and temperature averages.
In general, I believe most people prefer sunny weather to cloudy weather, sunshine to rain, warmth to cold, and dry roads to wet and snowy roads. This list is for people who prefer sunny, warm and dry weather. If you like clouds, rain, snow, and cold weather, this list is probably not for you.
Personally, I do prefer sunny, warm, dry weather. I have also been to every state in the United States. That includes Alaska, where I spent a summer back in 1992, and Hawaii, where I spent two weeks visiting all of the islands in 1994. I’ve been to all of the other 48 states at least twice, and been to many different states dozens of times.
Best Weather States in the United States
For my money, California has the best weather of any state in the United States. Overall, the Golden State is a very sunny, warm, and generally dry place.
Not every place in California is warm and sunny most of the year, but many large cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno, and San Jose have Mediterranean-like climates filled with plenty of sunshine and mild winters. California has well over 50% of the top 100 cities in the United States with populations over 50,000 people that average the most sunshine annually.
I’ve been to California about a dozen times, and have stayed anywhere from a week to several months at a time. I’ve experienced some rainy days and smoggy days while in California, but you just can’t beat the weather in the Golden State most of the time.
In January of 1987, my friends and I spent a week in California before we went to Super Bowl XXI at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The weather was beautiful almost the whole week, while back in the New York City area where we are from they had a big snowstorm one day. On Super Bowl Sunday it was sunny and in the 80s.
The Aloha State of Hawaii ranks second on the list. It never really gets too hot in Hawaii, the highest temperature reading ever recorded in the islands is just 100 degrees.
It also doesn’t get too cold in Hawaii. The lowest reading is 12 degrees, so it has never been below zero in the islands, and the record was set on top of 13,770 foot high Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Most areas are much milder.
I did not rank Hawaii first because in some areas of the islands it rains a lot. Hilo on the Big Island is one of rainiest and cloudiest cities in the United States. There is also a place on Kauai, Mount Waialeale, that is one of the rainiest places on earth.
There are also lots of sunny dry places in Hawaii where the weather is incredibly good most of the year. Overall, Hawaii is a great weather state, and a fantastic place to visit, vacation and probably live.
Overall, Arizona is a lot sunnier and drier than either California or Hawaii, but it’s also a much hotter state. So I rank Arizona third on this list of best weather states in the United States. Yuma, Arizona is reportedly one of the sunniest cities on earth, with annual sunshine levels of 90%.
Phoenix is very sunny too, but the city averages well over 100 days a year of 100 degree or hotter weather. While most people like warm, dry and sunny weather, they also don’t want to be baked alive.
Texas is another relatively warm, sunny and dry state, that generally has mild winters. It can get a little too humid at times in places in Texas for my taste, though, which is why I rank the state fourth.
Speaking of humidity, Florida ranks as the fifth best weather state in the United States. While summers are humid in Florida, winters are usually really nice with lots of sunshine and warm weather. Florida gets too much rain overall to rank any higher than fifth.
6. New Mexico
New Mexico is one of the driest states in the country. It’s also a pretty sunny state, overall. It does get colder in New Mexico than any of the states listed above.
7. South Carolina
South Carolina is, generally, a warm state with relatively mild winters. It rains a little too much in South Carolina for the state to be ranked any higher. The city of Charleston used to run ads claiming that the city has had at least one 80 degree temperature day in every January since its weather records have been kept.
Nevada is the driest state in the United States. It’s also one of the sunniest, but it can also get pretty cold in the winter in parts of the state, and extremely hot in the summer.
Georgia rarely has bad winters. The state gets a few too many thunderstorms and it rains in the Peach State a little too much each year to rank any higher on the list.
Utah is another state that is relatively dry and sunny, but winters can be bad in some parts of the Beehive State.