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Road Trip Games: The License Plate Game

My wife and son have had this little thing going in the car for the past couple of years where every time they see an out of state license plate they tell the other one and try to insist that they are some kind of winner if they see more than the other. I would keep on telling them that their game makes no sense! It has no rules, boundaries or goals. So on one of our bigger trips earlier this Summer we decided to take their little game and turn it into a game that (almost) everyone in our family can play during our long road trips.

We call it…. wait for it….

The License Plate Game! Pretty clever huh?

How the game works:

  • Print off a map of the US (which I have provided), this will be each players score card to track everything they see.
  • Pay attention to passing cars and their license plates.
  • License plates from the state you are in are worth 0 points.
  • Every state that is touching the state you are in is worth 1 point.
  • Every state touching the outside of a 1 point state is worth 2 points.
  • Every state touching the outside of the previous state is worth one extra point and so on.
  • Only one person can score on each license plate. So when you see a certain state license plate, you MUST call out the name of that state to get any points. If you don’t say the name of the state or you call out the incorrect state, you do not score.
  • Optional: All plates must be verified by at least one other member in a car.
  • We mark each siting in a state with a notch in that state on our score card.
  • Points are then tallied at the end of a trip. We usually add up points when we get to our destination (nobody wants to play on the ride home, they want to watch movies and sleep!).
  • It makes it extra fun if you attach a prize for the winner (and then give it to everyone anyways to be an awesome parent!).

I have included the map we use for Minnesota. Print this off in color for each person playing, give everyone a pencil and have fun.

In our family everyone starts off with a bang and pays a bunch of attention, but it is the kid who happens to call out a far off license plate after 2 hours of driving that usually ends up winning.

We hope this gives you an extra something to do on your next road trip.

Note: We recommend the driver does not play 🙂

ALSO: I would be happy to do up a map for any other states, just let me know what you are looking for and I will post it up.


Linda Dean

Saturday 24th of October 2020

I would love for you to send me your license plate game for Texas. We have been looking for ways to change up our yearly license plate game. The point system sounds like so much fun. Please let me know what I need to do or pay. Thanks.

Mary Muir

Thursday 13th of April 2017

Know the ABC game? Start by spying a word, spelled out, (outside car) that has an "A". Next find a word with a "B", etc. There's much catching up when participients reach the lesser used letters.

This game is not recommended for rural areas and sometimes in areas where there are many, many signs.

For variety, restrict letters to middle letters (not beginning or end letters), only black letters, etc.