Free Fun – The License Plate Game

It has come to our attention recently that there are some people out there who do not know about one of the best free bits of fun in all of road tripping, and that is the license plate game.  It is a great family game, and it can even help to ramp up someone’s geography skills if you want to use a map to play the game.  If you have never played this game, here’s the 411.  (And be sure to check out our post about more travel games!)

It’s a pretty basic game.  You try and spot license plates from all fifty states and keep track of how many you get.  That’s it.  You can also add DC if you want, and even the provinces of Canada if you’re really wild.  The way we play, only car license plates count, but some people (you might call them, ahem, cheaters) also count commercial truck license plates.

To track the plates, you can simply make a list, you can highlight the found states on a map (that’s where the geography comes in – and it might help kids learn postal codes, too, depending on your map), or you can print out a brochure from the family travel forum website.  These days you can even use free smartphone apps to track the found states.  Erin prefers the app cleverly called “License Plate Game” by Matthew Lilius.  Jeff prefers the Marathon Travel Games version.

The (definitely superior) iPhone app Erin likes

The iPhone app Jeff likes (this app does have an added car bingo bonus game)

Now what is the point of this game, you might ask? Well, to pass the time on a road trip, basically. Plus you get bragging rights over your friends who didn’t find eight states on their trip when you only had seven left at the end of yours, for example (yes, Knutsons, that’s you!). But it really does become a fun challenge to see which plates you will see, and the more you play, the more likely you are to find yourself weaving up and down the rows of shopping center parking lots looking for those last few plates….Just warning ya.

Do you play the license plate game? Have any special rules? What other fun car games have you played? Chime in on the comments section!

Enjoy your week or your weekend!

The ever elusive Rhode Island plate which Jeff spotted the day after our trip ended!


6 thoughts on “Free Fun – The License Plate Game

  1. We played this summer and found all but Hawaii. The boys were so into it; I think it was a highlight of the entire trip for them. We printed off a list with pics of all the plates, but I wish I would’ve remembered that there’s an app for everything!!

  2. I have the added rule that cars in parking lots don’t count. Too easy to rack up a bunch at a rest stop or tourist attraction. The car has to be moving. And I totally agree that semis do. not. count.

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