Image of US License Plates on a Wall

License Plate Game: 3 Ways to Play on Your Next Road Trip

By: Craig

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Photo by Semen Borisov on Unsplash

Road trips are an exciting way to travel and experience something new.

But let’s face it, after about two hours into your drive the excitement fades, and boredom sets in.

That is why classic road trip games like the License Plate Game were invented. Games like these can be played by kids and adults and are sure to keep you entertained during that long drive. 

So if you are looking to learn to play the License Plate Game for your next road trip, this post is for you.

We’ll go over what you need to play the game and how to play three variations of the license plate game.

Let’s get started!

The Goal of the License Plate Game

The goal of the License Plate Game is to find as many license plates from the 50 States + the District of Columbia as you can during your road trip. 

The best thing about the License Plate Game is you can make the rules to fit your road trip needs. Plus, you can make it enjoyable by coming up with prizes for the winners or an award for the first passenger to spot a license plate from Mexico or Canada.

Materials Needed for License Plate Game

Here is what we recommend adding to your packing list if you want to play the license plate game:

  • Clipboard or travel tray to write on
  • Writing utensils
  • Paper checklist of the 50 States + District of Columbia or map

Other ways to keep track of your progress as you play the License Plate Game are:

How to Play the License Plate Game

The ultimate goal of the License Plate Game is to find license plates representing all of the 50 States + District of Columbia.

Before starting, determine two things:

  • How long do you intend to play, such as your entire trip or just an hour
  • Are you playing cooperatively or competitively?

Cooperative Play

Cooperative play is where everyone in the car works together to find all of the 51 license plates before the end of the road trip or time is up.

As each state gets crossed off the list, everyone in the car gets closer to winning.

Pro Tip: Have some fun facts and trivia questions prepared for each state to provide information when each license plate is spotted.

Competitive Play

Competitive play has the players working individually or in teams to see who can find the most license plates.

In competitive play, the first person to see and call out a state’s license plate gets the point.

Once a car’s license plate is used for the game, it can not be used again by the other players in the car. The other players must find a different car with the same license plate to score a point for that same state.

The game continues until time is up or a player finds all 51 license plates.

At the end of the road trip or timeframe, the person or team with the most points wins the game.

Pro Tip: Trucks are the best source of finding different license plates, and rest stops have many trucks. Keep your eyes open when near areas with a lot of trucks.

Alternative Ways to Play the License Plate Game

Keep things interesting by learning alternative ways to play the License Plate Game.

Alternative games are perfect for short road trips where you may have enough time to find all 51 license plates or to have multiple games to play for super long road trips.

The Alphabet License Plate Game

You can play the Alphabet License Plate Game competitively or cooperatively; the choice is yours. 

For this alternative game, you will work to find license plates starting with each letter of the alphabet. The game is over once you find a license plate that begins with each letter of the alphabet.

You can make this game more challenging by going in alphabetical order. 

License Plate Bingo

There are a couple of different ways to play License Plate Bingo.

The first Bingo game uses just the letters of the license plates to mark off spaces on the game card. 

The second is by creating your Bingo cards using the license plates from different states. 

Check out this incredible Bingo card generator to help you make your own License Plate Bingo cards.

You Got This

The License Plate Game is a great way to help pass the time when taking a long road trip. Additionally, this game is an excellent opportunity to teach a geography lesson and learn more about the states discovered on the many license plates.

More Road Trip Fun:
Road Trip Activities for a Long Car Ride
149 Road Trip Questions to Spark Conversation
15 Ridiculously Fun Road Trip Games

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