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10 Best-Looking U.S. License Plates

These 10 license plates leave the other 40 states behind

By Kevin Litwin on June 24, 2015

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Looking for unusual, interesting and eye-appealing license plates is a road-trip tradition. As many families drive cross-country towards summertime destinations, they’ll be logging which license plates they see. Consider the nation’s interstates a moving art gallery. As in the art world, there are critics of license plates and those who will tell you a plate is a reflection of the state from which it came. Some plates are as colorful and interesting as a Picasso painting, while others are something you don’t really want but need – like a flu shot.

In most cases, plate designs are selected by committees tasked with promoting their state and adhering to a budget. The best license plates represent their individual state, capturing specific slogans, scenes, landmarks or cultures associated with their jurisdiction. 

“When choosing a good-looking plate, I consider color, graphics and typography,” says Laura Gallagher, a graphic designer with Livability.com. “The best plates use bold and high-contrasting colors, simple but meaningful graphics that represent the state visually, and easily read typography that ensures the plate’s functionality.”

So enjoy the view. Here are the 10 best-looking license plates in the U.S., and what they tell us about their state, as chosen by Livability.com:


A splendid evergreen-like tree along with a pair of inviting grandiose mountains in the background, accented by pleasing colors of bright green, blue and lavender. Gorgeous plate. It shows that residents here enjoy the outdoors, care for the environment and crave adventure. 

North Carolina

Vivid red, white and blue coloring with classic images of wind-swept beaches, sand dunes and Kitty Hawk. Also, “First in Flight” – a slogan that North Carolina has embraced for more than a century. Bravo. This scene on this plate conjures a feeling of accomplishment but also promotes a relaxing environment. 


Beautiful mountain scene, and the typeface number and letters are attention-getting. Strong use of color that highlights the mountains with Washington always looking to promote its outdoor magnificence. The design creates a sense of awe and grandeur. 

New Mexico

A bright yellow background a la the sun, while the green and white lettering go perfectly with the overall Southwestern pattern. Simple motif, but one that is unique and noticeable. Enchanting. This spicy plate gives the viewer a sense of warmth and cultural flair. 


What is Arizona’s most famous attraction? The Grand Canyon, and its image is emblazoned in the state’s license plate design. Also, six different colors bring out the vibrancy of this plate. Very artistic. The purple desert scene inspires viewers to head out for adventure and captures the beauty of the state. 


Quick joke: What is the state tree of Iowa? The telephone pole. Iowa is mostly flat farmland, and the state proudly promotes its agricultural excellence with a quaint farm setting enhanced with a pleasing color palate. Well done. The scene gives the viewer a sense of the heartland and what many encounter while traveling through the state. 


Excellent use of a color combination of sky blue, navy blue, burnt orange and white, with images of mountains and natural formations complementing the state’s “Life Elevated” slogan. The Delicate Arch, pictured on the plate, is the most recognized rock formation in the Arches National Park, which draws thousands of tourists each year. 

South Dakota

A fun-looking plate with bold colors and compelling design. Bright red, white and blue suggests patriotism, and what is more identifiable in South Dakota than Mount Rushmore? The scene is perhaps one of the most American icons. 


Lynryd Skynryd would approve. The state’s famed Sweet Home Alabama slogan along with large letters and numbers, plus soothing images like the sky, water and coastline. Nice. The plate helps promote the state’s Southern charm and reminds visitors that the state offers relaxing beaches and recreational areas. 

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Land of 10,000 Lakes. Explore Minnesota. The state’s tourism department trumpets an attractive message, augmented by engaging colors of blue (two shades), green and white accents. The little canoe in the upper center is another charming touch.


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