Head west for almost 25 miles on US31 from Chums Corners in Traverse City and you will find the small village of Beulah on the shores of Crystal Lake. Beulah with a population of under 400 and less than a ½ square mile, surprisingly offers something for everyone. You will find resorts, farms and the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. There is also 2 golf course The Pinecroft and Champion Hill. Looking for something a little different you could visit St. Ambrose Cellars or Five Shores Brewing for food, handcrafted meads, ciders, wines and beer. Do not forget to stop by the Cherry Hut offering homemade jams, local cherries and other Cherry products plus a seasonal restaurant that will be open for it’s 101st season this May!
Last week we had a couple of our adult kids and their families in town and we decided to head to Beulah and take the grandkids to Cognition, not sure what to expect. One of our Traverse City based kids decided to come along with his family too.
Cognition’s website says that they are an interactive science playground and that they have hands on exhibits. One of the pictures on the website showed a pre-teen holding a hedgehog! There was 5 grandkids, ages 3 – 17 and we had find someplace where everyone can have a good time, Cognition fit the bill!
We all had so much fun and I was surprised to see even the teenagers participating and enjoying the hands on exhibits. The main reason we went was that you were able to hold some of the animals. Cognition did not disappoint!
Cognition is a non-profit that is truly serving the community. Admission is only $8 per person or $90 for an annual family membership (other memberships available for very reasonable prices). They offer scholarships for memberships to make their programs more accessible to everyone.
They offer specials such as the planetarium show and Virtual Reality and other specials throughout the year. If you are a local or visit the area often a membership is a must!
The grandkids including the teens were totally fascinated with the different animals they were allowed to pet and hold. Heck, even my adult children were excited to experience it, I know I was! At one point one of my grandsons had 4-5 rats that decided to hang out in the hood of his sweatshirt and a couple of my granddaughters had snakes around their necks.
The staff at Cognition is AMAZING, they are knowledgeable, patient and obviously they love what they do. There was two of them the day we went and they did a great job of making sure everyone was taken care of. There were TEN of us that walked in the door and they already had 3 other families they were showing around. We never felt neglected. I wish I would have asked for the names of the woman and the man that were working that day, they were great!
They held animals for the kids that were afraid to hold them and were truly kind while a child decided if they even wanted to touch the animal. Because of their willingness to show every animal at least one of the kids held snakes, lizards, birds, a hedgehog, a chinchilla, rats, and a tarantula and I think they all at least touched every single one except the tarantula (only 2 of them were willing).
My 3 year old grandson was hesitant in holding or touching any of the animals. As soon as they were out of their enclosures he was high tailing it to the other exhibits. Imagine my surprise when I was helping another grand and I glanced over, and he was holding a snake! The staff deserve all the credit for that.
The Gift Shop
The grandkids know that when we go to a place like this that everyone gets to pick out 1 item from the gift shop. I was surprised at the thought that went into some of the items they stocked. There were a lot of STEM based items as well as stuffies and other silly stuff. The prices are what you would expect at a activity/event for kids. Remember this is a non-profit that is keeping admission prices at a very reasonable rate. I hope they made a very good profit on our purchase that day to help fund their programs.
Everyone was impressed
My Traverse City based son was so impressed (he was the one with 1 pre-teen and 2 teenagers) that he bought a family membership because they all want to come back. My other kids that don’t live in the up north anymore made donations because of the value that they felt Cognition brought to the area.
Three families and the Grandma all agreed that the trip was worth it and something we would do again and again. Cognition is a must visit for locals and visitors in the area.
Check out all the pictures at Cognition we took that day. Young and old had a blast!