First dates are the dentist appointments of the social world: They’re pretty much a non-negotiable if you’re looking for love (or just want to get laid), can be a bit painful, and most of the time, they straight up suck. Like, really suck. Sometimes it’s because the romantic vibe just isn’t there, sure. But many times it’s because the date you planned is falling flat and not keeping her interested. See, women can take a while to decide if they’re into in a guy. Even if the initial attraction isn’t there a lot of women will say “yes” to a few dates to see if feelings will develop over time. And that’s why it’s key that your first few dates with a new potential boo are well thought out, genuinely enjoyable, and set the stage for quality bonding time.

To ensure your next night out with that special lady is a hit—and to help you avoid a situation more painful than a wisdom tooth extraction—we asked 16 single ladies to tell us what they’d most love to do on a first date. So take out your iPhone, guys, it’s time to jot down some notes!

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Jazz Club with Bespoke Cocktails

“I don’t like heading to bars on a first date because I feel more comfortable getting to know someone without being five drinks deep somewhere that’s blasting rap music. A jazz club with specialty cocktails, on the other hand, is far better because it shows the guy put some thought into planning the evening, gives you something to talk about and you can get away with having just one delicious drink.” — Danielle, DE

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An Improv Show, Comedy Show, or Pun Competition

“One of the best dates I’ve ever gone on was to an event called Punderdome. It’s a pun competition at this bar in Brooklyn. I like to think of it as the word-nerd version of a rap battle, which I’m all about. Anyway, it was ideal because it was a really fun, hilarious way to get to know each other’s sense of humor, and it gave us tons to talk about on many dates to come (hi, inside jokes!). Good time all around.” — Lauren, NY

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Coffee In The Park

“I really like the idea of getting know someone over a cup of coffee at a park. (Personally, I love dog parks!) You can learn a lot about someone once you know how they take their coffee. The people watching also helps to break the ice and helps keep the conversation flowing.” — Anna, IL

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Conveyor Belt Sushi

“One of the best first dates I ever went on was at one of those sushi places where all the food comes out on a conveyor belt. It’s fun to try new things and point at the weird dishes. It gives you a lot to talk about. Plus, experiencing new things with someone is a bit of an aphrodisiac. And since you aren’t sitting face-to-face it doesn’t matter if you eat your rolls less than gracefully—it’s an added bonus!” — Olivia, FL

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A Boat Ride & Dinner

“My perfect first date would be something on the water. Maybe a boat ride to a spot where we could have dinner. When it’s just you and another person alone on a boat, it’s a great chance to get to know someone on a deep level away from distractions.” — Stefania, MI

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Apple Picking or Mini Golf

“My ideal first date would be something low pressure like apple picking or mini golf. These types of activities help you get to know the other person without fear of getting something stuck in your teeth.” — Laura, NJ

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Learn Something New

“I love to learn new things and discover how things are made, so my ideal first date would be a tour of a local factory. Whether it’s a brewery tour or a chip factory, I don’t care. Anything where you’re learning something new with a guy sets the stage for good conversation.” — Cara, CA

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A Board Game Cafe & Dessert

“One of the best first dates I’ve even been on was at a board game cafe. I told my date I had a big sweet tooth so he brought along cupcakes. (Swoon!) We’re both 90s kids, so we played all the classics like Guess Who and Operation. It was such a blast!” — Virginia, NY

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A Museum

“A science museum, sculpture garden or a planetarium is an ideal spot for a first date because it all but ensures you won’t run out of things to talk about. And if the date is a total bust, at least you got to take in some culture and check out something new.” — Liz, NH

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A Food Festival

“I’m a big foodie so a food festival—pickles, whiskey, whatever—is probably my ideal first date. Walking around, tasting food and taking in new sights is a great way to keep things light while getting to know someone. Plus, everyone loves food so it lowers the odds something will go awry.” — Anna, LA

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Cooking Class

“On one of our first dates, this guy I used to go out with got us Groupons to a cupcake-making class. It was really fun to bake together, and sort of funny because he was one of the only guys there. Planning something he knew I would find fun, that may not have been his ‘cup of tea’ was really thoughtful and definitely won me over.” — Michelle, OH

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Arcade Games & Ping Pong

“My ideal first date would be heading to a fun bar that has pool, ping pong, and other fun arcade-style things. A bit of competition can be sexy if the chemistry is there, and if the vibe falls flat, at least you can focus on the game.” — Claire, PA

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A Speakeasy

“I’m not into getting totally wasted on a first date but I really enjoy a solid, well-made cocktail to take the edge off. There is something I love about ordering something different, fresh, and delicious from a mixologist while getting to know someone. It adds a fun, adventurous vibe to the air and is better than a loud, sticky bar any day.” — Amy, GA

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Play Tourist

“First dates are a great excuse to play tourist in your own hood and take in all the sites and attractions you’ve always meant to see but never have. I’d say doing something new in my home-city and then grabbing a light bite or a coffee would be my ideal first date.” — Cassandra, CA

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Take a Hike

“A guy once took me on an easy hike as part of our first date. It was fun to snap photos and take in the sites and animals while chatting and getting to know each other. So long as the girl isn’t too girly, I think this is a solid option.” — Erin, CO

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“I think going bowling and then grabbing a drink or some appetizers is a fun and slightly goofy way to get to know someone and see their many sides. It’s light-hearted, casual and active so it keeps the pressure to a minimum.” — Emily, AZ

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