License Plate Game (printable)

Road trip… this phrase is loaded with memories. Whether it’s your first road trip with your spouse, that crazy road trip with college friends that you shouldn’t talk about in front of your parents, packing your kiddos up, or remembering back to when you were a kid smooshed into the back seat of the station wagon between your siblings… there’s something special about a road trip. One of the things that make it fun (besides riding with your head out the window or singing at the top of your lungs) are the games you play. Take for instance, the License Plate Game…

During my first road trip with my husband, he taught me the “License Plate Game”. That was 13 years ago on an 8-hour road trip. Now, living in Chicago, we play it every time we leave the house and oddly enough it doesn’t get old. Well, at least not for me since I’ve become a pro and totally kick hubby’s butt! And now all 3 of our boys play so I’ve got more competition! LOL

What I love about this game is that it gets the passenger’s eyes off of a screen (cell phone, tablet, laptop, or video screen) and looking out at the beautiful countryside you’re driving across. It gives you a way to connect with your road trip partners. And well, who doesn’t like holding over someone’s head that you found the only Alaska plate on the trip! Whoop, whoop!

Plus, this version adds a little twist to the License Plate Game… learning geography!



Here are the rules our family plays by:

  • The first person who calls out the license plate’s state gets to claim it.
  • License plates from the state you are in do not count. Since we live in Illinois, no one can call our Illinois unless we cross the state line.
  • Since we live in a highly traveled area and see oodles of different state plates daily, we have the rule that once the state has been called, no one else can use it even if it is a different vehicle. For instance, if California has already been called and another vehicle with a California plate is spotted, it doesn’t count. (See modifications to this rule below.)


License Plate Game printable


I’ll warn you that over the years, and especially now that all 3 of our boys play the game, the game has gotten incredibly competitive. So to keep squabbles over “who got it first” at bay, most of the time our family plays as a team. So we just see how many different license plates we can find in a day. However, there are several different ways you can play the game which are great for long road trips.


License Plate Game playing options:

  • First, you’ll need to decide if you are playing individually or as a family. If individually, each player will need a sheet so that you can track your plates.
  • Once a new state’s plate has been spotted, the player who found the license plate calls it out. Then the player needs to find the state on the map and check it off. The goal is to find how many states have been checked off at the end of the day. If playing as a family, the state would be called out aloud. If playing individually, the license plate is not called out. This keeps the game competive.
  • Every time a state’s license plate is seen, a tally mark is made on that state on the map. The goal of this play option is to see how many different state license plates have been spotted throughout the day. Once again, if playing as a family, the state would be called out aloud. If playing individually, the license plate is not called out.


No matter how you play the game or what modifications you make for your family, everyone will have a blast and will learn a little something. It is very interesting to see just how calling out state license plates sparks conversations and “did you know” questions from all members of the family as they share cool or interesting things they may have read, seen or heard about something in that state.

Remember that the ultimate goal of this game is nothing more than having fun together in the car!


Traveling with kids? Here are some fantastic printable activity packs to print out and take along. They’ll love the activities, you’ll be grateful for a few minutes of quiet. A win for the whole family!



Superhero Activity Pack;







Have a safe and happy road trip, friends!


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