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10 Fun Car Games You’ve Never Thought to Play with Your Kids

Updated: Dec. 02, 2022

When you start hearing “Are we there yet?” from the back seat, start one of these games to keep your kids (and you) entertained through your whole road trip.

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Cute curly laughing and talking toddler girl playing with a toy bear enjoying a family vacation car ride in a modern safe vehicle sitting in baby seat with belt having fun watching out of the window

The best car games for kids who like animals

Name an animal. The next player has to think of another critter that starts with the last letter of the previous one. Keep going until someone gets stuck and can’t think of a new one—there are no repeats. You can also try this game with movie titles, girls’ or boys’ names, books, or any other category you can dream up.

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Happy kids, adorable girl with her brother sitting together in modern car locked with safety belts enjoying family vacation trip on summer weekend

The best car games for kids who like to laugh

Read off the letters from a license plate you pass. Go in a circle and let every player think up a phrase with those letters. For example, GFT could turn into “glowing flower trees” or “gophers forget things.” The zanier, the better—your kids will crack up at the wacky expressions. Switch to another plate when everyone’s out of ideas. Here are more brain boosters you can do with your kids.

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Toddler girl sitting in her car seat, looking outside the window.
Arkom Suvarnasiri/Shutterstock

The best car games for kids who like fast food

If you’re driving through a city or town, have each player pick a food joint (McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc.). Tell your kids to keep their eyes peeled for the restaurant they chose—they’ll get a point every time they see the eatery or a sign for it. Next time you stop, the person with the most points wins. You can also try this game with more general categories; assign each person to fast food stops, gas stations, or sit-down restaurants. To keep your children entertained, play tic-tac-toe–this is how to win every time.

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Smiling girl and boy in the back of car on family road trip
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

The best car games for kids who like counting

Pick an item or a color, and challenge your kids to find 50 objects in that category. They might hunt for American flags, churches, yellow cars, or anything blue. To keep them occupied even longer, up the stake to 100 items.

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Child in the car with fasten seat belt

The best car games for kids who like telling stories

First, have your kids scan outside for words on signs, billboards, shops, and bumper stickers, then write ten of them on a sheet of paper. When they’ve made their lists, tell them to use all those words to write a story, song, or poem. They’ll work their creative juices to come up with an inventive storyline.

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Small girl is sitting in child cat seat, looking at the camera

The best car games for kids who like scavenger hunts

Before you hit the road, fill a clean soda bottle or plastic jar about two-thirds full of uncooked rice, along with about 20 little items like buttons, pennies, and marbles. Keep track of how many objects you added and shut the lid tight. While you’re on the road, let your kids roll the bottle in their hands while they search for all the pieces inside.

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Adorable cute preschool kid boy sitting in car in yellow rain coat. Little school child in safety car seat with belt enjoying trip and journey. Safe travel with kids and traffic laws concept.

The best car games for kids who love cars

Pick a type of vehicle—maybe pickup trucks or Volkswagen Beetles—and ask your kids what they think is the most common color of that car. Tally up how many of each hue you see. Whoever guessed right by the time you reach your destination is the winner.

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Boy sitting in a car in safety chair
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

The best car games for kids who love small toys

Pack a cookie sheet and some magnetic letters and toys, and let your kids spell words or play with the magnets. A baking sheet can also turn into a makeshift dry erase board, or act as a hard surface for kids to write, draw, or drive Matchbox cars on.

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Portrait of pretty toddler boy sitting in car seat. Child transportation safety
Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock

The best car games for playing hide-and-seek on the go

Play hide and seek around your house, even when you’re not home. Have a player pick a spot in your home (it can even be in a drawer or somewhere else your kid wouldn’t fit). Ask yes or no questions such as “Are you in your bedroom?” or “Are you under something?” until you guess the spot.

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Child in the car with fasten seat belt

The best car games for kids with good spatial skills

Choose an object in the distance and let everyone guess how far away it is. Use your odometer to measure the real length away. The player whose guess was closest wins and gets to pick the next object. Plus, don’t miss these 18 fun things that moms should always have when traveling with kids.

Sources: kidshealth.org, momsminivan.com, parents.com, sixsistersstuff.com

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest