21 Fun Games to Play in the Car

Planning to spend a few hours in the car? These (completely free!) road trip games will keep your kids entertained on the drive.

Road trips with your children don't have to be difficult ordeals punctuated by endless variations of "Are we there yet?" Instead, try out these 21 fun car games to keep your young crew entertained.

1. The License Plate Game

Make a group effort to spot tags from all 50 states. Whoever calls out a state's license plate first gets a point. (Bonus points for the first person to spy a Canadian plate!) The family member with the most points at the end of the drive wins.

2. Trivia Questions

Before the car ride, prepare a list of trivia questions about your kids' specific interests, whether it's Disney characters or American history. Ask them throughout the drive to get their brains pumping.

3. Story Time

Get creative inventing a family fairy tale! The first person starts with "Once upon a time…" and offers a complete sentence, then the second person adds to the story with their sentence. Take turns adding sentences until the story reaches a conclusion.

You can either set a time limit (say, 15 minutes) or wrap it up after each person has a chance to say three sentences. Consider recording the story on your phone and having someone transcribe it afterward, so you'll never forget it.

4. Questions

There aren't many distractions in the car, so it's the perfect opportunity to bond with your children. Get them talking by asking some fun "get-to-know-you" questions: What is the most adventurous thing you've ever eaten? What do you like daydreaming about? What are three things you want to do this summer?

Little Girl Sitting In Car Seat with Teddy Bear
Priscilla Gragg

5. The Alphabet Game

One person chooses the right-hand side of the road, and the other gets the left. Then, each looks for letters of the alphabet that appear on signs or license plates on their side.

The object of the game is to point out all the letters of the alphabet in order, from A to Z. The first person to spot the entire alphabet wins!

6. The Animal Name Game

To start this road trip game, one person names an animal. The next person then has to name another animal (no repeating!) that begins with the last letter of the previous animal named (for example, "elephant" ends with "t," so the next person might say "tiger," after which the next person might say "raccoon," and so on).

The game can go on forever, and kids like that no one wins or loses. If your children are a little older, you can swap animals for other categories like TV shows, cities, or foods.

7. Twenty Questions

One person secretly thinks of a person, place, or thing. The other players then take turns asking yes-or-no questions, such as "Can it fly?" or "Does it grow in the ground?" Finally, after the players have asked 20 questions, each player gets a chance to make a guess.

8. Telephone

Designate a storyteller. The storyteller whispers a story to someone else in the car. That person whispers the same story—getting as close as they can to recreating it word-for-word—to a third person, and so on. The last person to hear the story repeats it out loud so everyone can hear. Invariably, some of the stories will have been lost in the translation, and the resulting garbled message usually inspires a good laugh.

9. The Theme Song Game

One person hums the tune to a favorite TV show, and everyone else tries to name the show as fast as possible. Then, the first person to guess correctly hums the next song and starts the game again.

10. Name That Song

Take turns singing a single song lyric. Then, the other people in the car can guess the singer or title—bonus points if they get both! (This game works best for older children and teens.)

11. Scavenger Hunt

You'll need some advanced planning for this one. Before the trip, make a list of items you're likely to see on the road—a blue billboard, cows, a motorcycle, etc. Your kids can be on the lookout for these items, keeping track of what they see. If they find everything on your list, they win a prize. (Perhaps some candy at the next rest stop?)

12. Memory Test

The first person says, "A is for __," filling in the blank with any word beginning with the letter "A," such as "apple." The second person comes up with a word for the letter B, such as "book," but must also repeat the "A" word: "A is for apple, B is for book."

Continue through the alphabet, each person taking several turns and reciting more letters and words. By the time you reach the letter "Z," that player will have to recite the whole alphabet and each letter's corresponding word. If you're playing with younger kids, you can choose an earlier letter to end on than "Z."

13. Secret Place Race

One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, village, lake, or river. That person announces the name of the place they have chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.

14. Restaurant Race

Each player chooses a fast-food restaurant, such as Burger King, Taco Bell, or McDonald's. Players earn points by spotting their restaurant off the road, on a billboard, on exit markers, on Food and Fuel signs, or by hearing it mentioned on the radio. Impose a time limit—say, 20 minutes—then add up the points.

15. Healthy Competition

Though not exactly a "car" game, this activity is perfect for long road trips. To offset the sedentary nature of the journey, have kids compete in athletic challenges at rest stops. See who can do the most sprints, push-ups, or jumping jacks in a minute, then stage a 20-yard dash.

16. Would You Rather?

Start a round of "Would You Rather?" with everyone getting a turn to ask far-fetched questions of the family. For example, "Would you rather eat chocolate or pizza for an entire day?" or "Would you rather have the ability to fly or become invisible?" Your family's answers may surprise you!

17. Categories

Choose a broad category, such as cities, movie titles, or dinner foods. Then, players take turns naming items within the chosen category in alphabetical order. For example, if you chose cities, you could say Athens, Boise, Charleston, Detroit, and Edinburgh. If a player doesn't state their answer within 10 seconds—or doesn't travel down the alphabet correctly—they're out. The last player standing wins.

18. Word Association

The first player states a random word aloud. The next player quickly says another word associated with the first one. These steps repeat, cycling through all of the players. (Here's an example: mustard, hot dog, barbecue, Fourth of July, fireworks…). The game ends if someone takes too long to answer, provides an answer without a clear association, or repeats a word.

19. Watch Your Mouth!

Before the road trip, choose words or phrases that are "off-limits" in the car—for example, the first names of family members or "Are we there yet?" If someone says one of the off-limits words, they get a point. Whoever has the fewest points at the end of the drive wins the game!

20. Counting Cows

This game is surprisingly simple. Whenever you pass a cow, yell out "cow!" or "moo!" The first person to spot the cow and say the word gets a point (no repeats!). Whoever racks up the most points is declared the winner.

21. Road Trip Riffing

The first player starts by singing a few lines of a song. Then, another person jumps in to connect the lyrics with another song (essentially, the last lyrics Player One sings should be the first lyrics Player Two sings). Here's an example: "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you…." "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy…" "Happy birthday to you!"

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