Band gaps, i.e., frequency ranges in which waves cannot propagate, can be found in elastic structures for which there is a certain periodic modulation of the material properties or structure. In this paper, we maximize the band gap size for bending waves in a Mindlin plate. We analyze an infinite periodic plate using Bloch theory, which conveniently reduces the maximization problem to that of a single base cell. Secondly, we construct a finite periodic plate using a number of the optimized base cells in a postprocessed version. The dynamic properties of the finite plate are investigated theoretically and experimentally and the issue of finite size effects is addressed.