Scrap the same old boring restaurant dates in favour of something that’s actually fun.

If you ask a woman about her most memorable date ever, chances are she’s not going to mention a dinner. No matter how good the food is, there’s only so much fun you can have when you’re staring at someone across a white tablecloth. For the 800th time. No, the best dates involve some kind of actual activity beyond chewing—a friendly competition, a physical challenge, something that gets her laughing and her blood pumping. So I poured my friends some wine and interrogated them about the best dates they’ve ever been treated to, and will share the smartest ideas here. Next time you really want to impress a lady, try one of these options.

ICE SKATING
Yes, even if you both suck at it—especially if you both suck at it. Really, any activity intended for children ages 9 and under makes for an amazing date. Mini golf, batting cages, go karts, laser tag. It may sound ridiculous for two adults but that’s the point. I dare anyone to flail around an ice skating rink dodging first graders and not have an awesome time. She’ll laugh her ass off and you’ll be the creative guy with a better idea than yet another steak dinner. Afterward, catch your breath at a diner or some other casual joint. Make sure you wear some cologne, so she’ll smell your fresh fragrance, not the sweat your worked up earlier.

THE ULTIMATE NIGHT IN
OK, so technically this is dinner, but it’s way better than your typical restaurant date. Step 1: Identify her favourite dish—maybe she always orders the casserole at that fancy French restaurant you take her to on special occasions, for example. Step 2: Find the recipe. For maximum brownie points, call that French restaurant and beg them for the recipe. Failing that, use Google to find something similar. Step 3: Surprise her with a basket of everything you need for the ultimate date night in: A nice card with the recipe on it, all the ingredients, a candle, wine, and a special gift for her.

LEARN EACH OTHER’S HOBBIES
Maybe you’re a fisherman, or she’s a skier. Whatever it is, set a date to have her teach you about what she loves (and schedule another date for your favourite hobby). It’ll be endearing to see her in her element, and vice versa. Plus, by actively trying to learn and understand, it’ll show you care about her. The “teaching” can get intimate, too, which is never a bad thing.

RUGBY OR CRICKET GAME
This makes for a great first or second date—provided she has at least a passing interest in sports and/or sitting in a vibey atmosphere with a beer. Cricket, especially, is slow enough to give you plenty of time to have get-to-know-you conversation, but without any awkward pauses, because there’s always a game to watch. Plus, there’s none of the stiff formality of an upscale restaurant. Casual settings always make for easier conversation.

SURPRISE EXCURSION

Tell her to meet you at 9 a.m. but don’t tell her what for. Then surprise her with a day exploring a locale an hour or so away. Maybe it’s a wine farm, a beach town she’s never been to, or hell, even a neighborhood in your city that you’ve always meant to check out. Wherever you are, there’s probably a place within a 50-60km radius with something fun to offer, even if it’s just novelty. Pick one, and plan to spend the day wandering and exploring what the region has to offer. Even if it’s a odd or interesting place with nothing but a rundown coffee shop, it’ll give you both a sense of adventure.