Summer is the season of the road trip and you might be looking for car games to entertain your kids as you travel to your vacation destination. If you can only answer the question “are we there yet?” a dozen times before losing your marbles, these car games will distract your kids and give them a fun activity to do while you focus on the road.
We wanted to find free car games that can be played with little to no special pieces. These games range from classic games you probably played in the car as a kid along with some improv games that can be adapted to work in your car. Don’t let your kids’ boredom become a nuisance! Fostering play with these car games is the best way to keep them occupied for hours.
These Car Games Are a Blast!
Riff-Off That Song
The game begins with the first player singing a few lines of a song. Player two then must come up with a song that shares the same lyric(s). Example: “Twinkle, Twinkle little star…” “Star light, star bright…”
Count the Cows
There’s a very good chance you will pass some cows on your drive. This is one of the easiest car games to play with young children. Simply tell your kids to yell “moo!” or “cow!” whenever they see one and point. The first person to yell “cow” or “moo!” gets a point.
At the start of your trip, choose a word or phrase that will be off-limits for the duration of the trip. This can be someone in your family’s name, the name of the place you are going, or even “are we there yet?” Each time the forbidden phrase or word is said the person who said it gets a point. At the end of the trip, the person with the fewest points wins!
Here’s one of the car games on this list that does not seem fun on paper but is in practice. The game starts by choosing a person to say a random word. Going around the car clockwise to the next person, they must say a word that’s associated with the one the first player said. If they take too long to come up with a word or choose something that doesn’t fit, they’re out. Example: “Sand,” “Beach,” “Sunscreen,” Sunglasses,” etc.
Pick a Category
Pick a category to make a list from. It can be things like US Presidents, movies, NFL players, dinner foods, etc. Once you have picked the category each person must take a turn naming something from the category that starts with A. The game continues in alphabetical order. If a person does not come up with an item for the list within five seconds, they are automatically out. Let’s say you chose names for boys as the category: “Adam,” “Benjamin,” Chris,” etc.
Would You Rather?
Another one of these car games that’s also fun for adults is Would You Rather? Everyone takes turns asking and answering weird questions. Example: “Would you rather eat chocolate or pizza for 12 hours straight?” or “Would you rather stay awake for three days or sleep for three days?”
Spot That Brand
Ask each of the players to choose a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s or Taco Bell or Burger King. The object of the game is for the players to yell whenever they see the restaurant they have chosen be it the brick and mortar store, on billboards, or on exit markers. Each time they see their restaurant, that’s a point. Whoever has the most points at the end of play wins.
Find the Place
Here is one of the car games that does require something, a map, to play. One person takes a look at a map and chooses something named on it. The other player must then try and find the place in sixty seconds or less.
This is another one of the car games that is played alphabetically. The first player chooses something that starts with A, the next person then must repeat the already chosen word and then share their own word with the letter B. Example: “Apple” “Apple, Banana,” “Apple, Banana, Cat.” Continue on until you reach the letter Z with the final player naming every object that has been chosen by the players.
Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
One of the few car games on this list that requires a touch of planning, a scavenger hunt can be played easily on the trip. Make a list of things your kids will likely see on the trip so things like a motorcycle, a green billboard, a cow, a police car, etc. Whoever completes the scavenger hunt first wins.
Name That Song
One of the car games that’s best played with older children, Name that Song is simply a game that quizzes your kids’ musical knowledge. One person sings a part of a song. Everyone else on the ride needs to guess the title of the song and/or the singer. You can keep track with points for each correct guess.
Here’s another one of the fun car games on this list for music lovers. One person hums the theme song from a TV show. The other players must try and guess the show it’s from. Play until you run out of themes to hum!
One person picks a person, place, or thing. Now, the other players have 20 questions to ask to get clues about the things that’s been chosen. The questions have to be in a yes or no format. So, “Does it have an engine?” or “Does it have a heartbeat?” are two examples. The first person to guess the item correctly wins.
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Wild Name Game
One person chooses an animal and says it aloud to the group. Then each person in order has to name another creature that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named. For instance, “Tiger,” “Raccoon,” “Newt,” “Toucan,” etc. You can adapt this format to a number of topics like movies, or even geography, for countless car games.
Left or Right Alphabet Game
This game is best played with two players. Each person looks out their side of the car and tries to find the letters of the alphabet on all they can see. So, think license plates, bumper stickers, billboards, and signage. The first person to find every letter in the alphabet (in order) wins!
Ask your kids a bunch of random questions you have gotten at job interviews. Things like: What’s the last great book you read? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What is your best quality? Etc. It’s a game that allows parents to learn what’s going on their little ones’ heads.
Build a Narrative
This car game is best played with four passengers or more. One person starts a story with “Once upon a time” and finishes the sentence with something unique. The next person’s turn will be another sentence added to the story. The name goes on until you’ve cobbled together a silly little story of your family’s making.
Keep Scrolling for Even More Car Games!
License Plate Game
One of the car games you probably grew up playing, this game is simply a race to find a license plate from every state. Whoever spots a license plate from a new state first, gets a point. You can even offer bonus points for Canadian plates.
This is similar to other games on this list but it does not require singing from anyone in your family (which might be ideal). Turn on the radio. Ask your kids to name the artist whenever a new song comes on. The first person to correctly guess the artist gets a point.
One of the car games that you might have walked away bruised from as a child is still fun today. However, discourage punching, that’s not nice. To play this game, have your kids be on the lookout for Volkswagen Beetle. The first person to see one must yell the color of the car along with punch buggy. Example: “Yellow punch buggy!” Each buggy spotting earns a point.
I spy is such a fun way to pass the time and to keep the kids guessing. Play I Spy bu choosing something inside the car or on the road. Now, give a clue to kick things off: “I spy with my little eye something that starts with the letter M.” Next, the kids must try and guess what you’ve got your eye on.
Best for kids with big imaginations, Three Words is very simple to play. You choose three random words like lightbulb, chicken, and snow. Tell your kids to create a story that somehow ties the three things into a cohesive narrative. It gets very silly very fast!
Movies, Movies, Movies
Pick a letter from the alphabet and ask your kids to name all of the movies they can think of that start with the letter in a minute. So, you can choose the letter T and movies like Toy Story, Tangled, etc. Whoever says the most movie names in the given time wins.
Name Your Top Ten
Take turns asking your kids about their top 10 favorite items. Pick almost any topic such as cars, movies, TV shows, books, foods, etc. You get to learn your kids’ interests at the moment and they get to share the things that make them happy.
You list things that are all the same color. So, if you choose the color red, say “apples, firetrucks, stop signs,” etc. until the kids guess the color that your objects share.
Smiles for Miles
Unlike the other car games on this list, this game is all about being silly and spreading joy. Ask your kids to smile their cheesiest, biggest smiles out of their perspective windows to other travelers on the road. Whoever can get the most people to smile back at them is the winner.
Fortunately / Unfortunately
This old improv game is a fun one for kids and adults alike. One person starts a story with “Fortunately,” then states a fortunate thing. The next player must respond with “Unfortunately,” and says something unfortunate that relates to the first sentence. Example: “Fortunately, I’m making a cake.” “Unfortunately, I don’t have any sugar.” “Fortunately, the person I’m baking it for can’t eat sweets.” It goes on and on if the players can keep things interesting.
Build anticipation about your destination by coming up with some trivia questions about the place you’re visiting. Ask your kids about the population, the place’s most popular export, famous people from the area, and more! Kids get to learn about the place you’ll be spending your vacation while getting even more excited to get there.
The Quiet Game
Always keep this gem in your backpacker for whenever your kids are being unruly, loud, and obnoxious! See who can stay quietest the longest. It’s one of the car games that’s actually a godsend for parents.
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Here’s a car game that’s similar to Punch Buggy, in that your kids are tasked with looking for a very specific car. We like choosing yellow as there aren’t a ton of yellow cars on the road. The kids must be on the lookout and yell “skittles!” whenever they spot a yellow car and point to it. The person who spies the most yellow colors wins.
There you go! We hope you found some car games that your kids will love that will make the time fly by! Most of these car games are adaptable so you can rework the rules, categories, and more to work for your family. If you’re reading this, you’re likely about to take a trip! Happy trails!
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 1 These Car Games Are a Blast!
- 1.1 Riff-Off That Song
- 1.2 Count the Cows
- 1.3 Forbidden Words
- 1.4 Word Associations
- 1.5 Pick a Category
- 1.6 Would You Rather?
- 1.7 Spot That Brand
- 1.8 Find the Place
- 1.9 Memory Game
- 1.10 Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
- 1.11 Name That Song
- 1.12 These Songs
- 1.13 Twenty Questions
- 1.14 Wild Name Game
- 1.15 Left or Right Alphabet Game
- 1.16 The Interview
- 1.17 Build a Narrative
- 2 Keep Scrolling for Even More Car Games!
- 3 Fortunately / Unfortunately
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