I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before, but we love experience gifts! Our family knows that and for the past couple years our kids Aunt and Uncle have gifted us gift cards for local places we could go have fun and experience new places together. This year they got us tickets to COSI! I hope that many people from the area have had a chance to check out this place for themselves but for those who haven’t had the chance or maybe it has just been a while and you want to know how it is now, here is what we came away with:

What is COSI?

The acronym stands for Center of Science and Industry and is located in Columbus, Ohio. Essentially, it’s like an interactive kids’ museum. It’s very fun, very educational, and unlike a regular museum, very hands on. There are multiple exhibit areas each with its own theme and it’s a pretty big variety to check out. From Dinosaurs to ocean, gadgets to taking a stroll back in time at progress, there is a lot to keep you busy. There are even a few exhibits throughout the hallways between the larger themed areas which are fun to check out like the unicycle on a wire or one of my boys’ favorites with the spinning coins. If you are like me and remember going as a kid yourself, you may be wondering how much has changed? I will say there have been a few replaced exhibits (dinosaurs were definitely not there back when I was a kid), but many of the areas remain the same from what I remember from my childhood visits.

What is the cost?

Thankfully our trip was a gift but buying regular admission tickets shouldn’t break the bank. Current ticket prices are $25 for those 13 and older and $20 for guests 2-12. There are also additional discounts for certain professions with associated IDs such as military discounts and it appears that teachers even get in for free! Most of the exhibits are included in the general admission but some areas do come at an extra cost like specialty exhibits or the motion simulator. There were no specialty exhibits open during our visit day, but we did buy tickets for the simulator which I would honestly skip if I went back again as the wait was long and the ride was a bit boring for my family’s taste. Tickets can be bought at the gate or online ahead of time through COSI’s website.

How was it?

Now that we have the general info out of the way, let’s get down to what you really want to know: How did we like it? Let me start off by saying that obviously, our crew does not fit the mold of every other family. There are probably a lot of neurotypical kids the same age as our kids that would really enjoy this place. For us, our daughter was a lot more interested in the exhibits than our boys were. Our boys liked a few very specific areas (like the piano that made bodily function sounds in the life exhibit) but many of the exhibits were unfortunately just not of interest to them. I think personally my boys were just a bit too young for many of the experiences offered.

The other point that I will make was that the crowd was big, larger than I had originally expected, which likely impacted on our experience a bit as well. We tried to avoid a crowd by targeting a weekday that my kids were off school hoping that many other kids would be in school still. We also went just before the new King TUT exhibit was released hoping not to catch an additional crowd from that. But unfortunately, it was still quite crowded, mostly by a few large groups of field trips. The mix of crowd with varying interest of content for my boys equaled a so-so day, not bad but not great.

Sensory Bag (Photo Credit COSI website)

We apparently didn’t do our full amount of due diligence on the offerings of the venue to help our kiddos with sensory issues, because it wasn’t until our way out that we saw that COSI actually offers sensory bags for free to help kids like ours enjoy the experience. These bags include some sensory fidget toys, noise cancelling headphones, and a small picture schedule. It was a nice touch that may have helped, and we were sorry that we didn’t know sooner. But if you are reading this post then you can avoid making the same mistake we did and stop by guest services to pick up a sensory bag for your visit. (Just a note that these items are on loan only for the time of the visit and do need returned before leaving). You will also find that they have a sensory friendly map with places that you can go to for lower crowd areas to take breaks as needed. 

Not our best outing, partly due to me not following my own advice on finding all the available accommodations that are offered by the venue ahead of time, but also just based on our boys’ interests overall. I am hopeful that we can revisit in a few years when they are a bit older, and they will appreciate it more then. If you have a child on the spectrum that has a big interest in some of the specific areas offered, such as a fascination with dinosaurs, then I would imagine your visit would be very different than ours.  Maybe by then all my little thrill seekers will be tall enough for the bike on a wire that we had to skip this time around too. I imagine that will be another favorite of theirs. I will also make sure not to forget the sensory bags on our next visit either!