If you’re planning a family road trip for summer, you already know the essentials to have on hand—plenty of snacks, likely a screen of some kind and games galore. When it comes to road trip games, we’ve gone beyond the license plate game and the iPad to bring you the latest and greatest go-anywhere games for kids that are unplugged and uniquely fun.
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Created by single adoptive mom Kayla Lupean, Play Maysie is a portable, customizable world in a case for the pint-sized bunch. Noted as “everything a dollhouse should be,” this toy is a gender-neutral classic childhood favorite that is made for adventures. Play Maysie’s design was inspired by the nostalgia of vintage tin lunchboxes. It folds out on both sides to showcase interchangeable, magnetic rooms with fixed wooden furniture—built for frustration free play, less mess and no more lost pieces! With an eye on teaching sustainability, each Play Maysie is made of eco-friendly, renewable materials for indoor and outdoor play either at home or on the go.
KiwiCo knows that long trips in the car can be a challenge for little ones and thankfully offer a handful of road-trip friendly and screen-free projects to keep kids happy and having fun for hours in the backseat. We especially love the Monster Mix and Match Art Pack for on-the-go creativity for little ones as everything you need is cleverly contained in a folder that packs up well for travel.
Older kids with an eye for science will love the Froggie Lab Dissection. Play pretend with a plush Froggie friend that you can "dissect" and play a card game with to figure out why froggie isn’t feeling well. For the oldest travelers, go for the Build-Your-Own Headphones that offer hours of fun.
Dot Markers from Doodle Hog
These extra-fat markers are perfect for little hands and a great option for road trips because they won't dry out if your kid drops them under the driver's seat. Loop a paci clip around them and you can hook them to a car seat for easy kid access.
Available on Amazon, $16.99.
Magnetic Building Blocks
This set of seven magnetic blocks can be combined in hundreds of different ways, making it a perfect road trip game. Kids get a set of cards (over 50) with different designs, and it's up to them to figure out how to get the blocks into the correct pattern. Made in bright colors with BPA-free plastic, this is one of the best bet any time you are on the road.
Ages: 5 & up.
Available at amazon.com, $13.99.
RiotPWR Gaming Controllers
Take your gaming with you, even on the road. Hook this handy controller up to your smartphone and turn it into a gaming system. With over 1000 compatible games to choose from, you can definitely keep the "are we there yet?" questions at bay.
Get it here, $49.99.
Dino Explorer Carry Case
Your dino-loving tyke can take the fun on the road with this new carry case from Playmobil. It comes with two pre-historic meat eaters, a rugged explorer, fossils and jungle terrain.
Ages: 4 & up.
Available on Amazon, $14.99.
Mental Blox – On The Go
There's no spring break or summer slide when these brand new brainteasers are entertaining and educating little passengers. Each 20-piece set includes a book with 10 different kinds of games or puzzles. Complexity grows with the kids as they hone problem solving and acquire math skills. With one or two-player options and a durable carrying case that makes clean up fast and easy, this is the perfect game to keep in the backseat.
Ages 5 & up.
Available at amazon.com, $12.09.
My First Crayola Touch Lights
Toddlers and pens don’t necessarily go hand in hand. How about a mess-free option? This new gel-surface tablet offers just that, along with all the freedom and creativity of finger painting, as well as six songs and 12 colors to keep imaginations brewing and doodling.
Ages 2 & up.
Available at Amazon, $39.97
While this play board may look like a laptop, it promises screen-free fun, thanks to 200 different puzzles in one! Twenty-eight two-color magnetic puzzle pieces offer up hours of spatial reasoning, problem solving, focus, and portable entertainment.
Ages 8 & up.
Available at Amazon, $14.29.
Magnetic Game Box The Seasons
No matter what time of year you hit the road, the kids can depict what they see out the window with this fun game. Whether that’s picking spring flowers, swimming in summer, flying a kite in autumn, or building a winter snowman, kids can puzzle together seasonal scenes with loads of magnetic tiles at their fingertips.
Ages 3 & up.
Available at Amazon, $14.99.
Solo passengers fear not! Should you choose to accept Smart Games’ new Pockets single-player game challenge, all you have to do is arrange 10 different puzzle pieces so that the nine central squares match the challenge image. Once you figure that out, another 119 challenges will more than get you to your destination (Upon which parents will probably want to play this one.).
Ages “6 to adult.”
Available at amazon.com, $9.99.
Talk about flash cards that do it all—inviting drawing, basic number practice, and fun shapes, all with the magic of a water-filled, non-toxic pen. And by the time you’ve journeyed another few miles down the road, the painting will have disappeared and the fun can start all over again.
Ages 10 months to 3 years.
Available at amazon.com, $13.89.
Flip-to-Win Hangman Travel Game
Melissa & Doug’s updated version of the classic time-passing game comes with an erasable whiteboard for reusable play. The fact that the pieces can’t fall off, no matter how bumpy the ride, makes this ideal for any road trip. The kids may not even realize they’re working in great spelling practice, too.
Ages 6 & up.
Available at Amazon, $9.29.
Magnetic Car Race
Who said the kids can’t drive? This magnetic travel car race game from the Purple Cow sports a portable racetrack that unfolds into a flat surface for up to four drivers to head off to the races.
Ages 3 & up.
Available at amazon.com, $7.99.
For mind-bending fun, look no further than Otrio. A brainiac tic-tac-toe-like game the whole family is likely to love on or off the road, its small, solid wood board and grooved pieces also make it travel-friendly. All that’s left to do is align three pieces in one of three ways. So simple… right?
Ages 8 & up.
Available at Amazon, $29.97.
6-in-1 Travel Magnetic Games
The main goal when we travel is usually to pack light. Well, Pressman managed to fit six classics—Checkers, Chess, Backgammon, Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, and Snakes and Ladders—into one hand-held package. Not to mention a fun art refresh for 2018. Just turn the knob to cue up your next game. Perfect for 2-4 players.
Ages 7 & up.
Available at amazon.com, $10.05.
BRIO Take Along Labyrinth
You'll never lose your marbles when you take this travel-sized labyrinth from BRIO on your next trip. Totally sealed, made of beech wood and PVC-free plastic, it's got smooth handles and slips into a backpack for easy transport.
Ages 3 & up.
Available at amazon.com, $27.62.
—Jennifer Massoni Pardini
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Editor’s Note: All items were available at list price upon publication.
All images courtesy retailers.