Frequently Asked Questions About the
Rice Heritage Cottage

Where is the cottage located?
The cottage is located on the west side of Cayuga Lake, north of Taughannock Falls State Park.


When is the cottage available for use?
The cottage is available for non-family renters during May, June, September, and October. It is a great place for relaxed family gatherings and small group retreats — and has even hosted nature-themed weddings and honeymoons.


How many people can sleep at the Rice Heritage?
There are two bedrooms upstairs at the cottage. Each has a full-sized bed. The living room can accommodate two more sleepers on couches, and many people enjoy sleeping on the side porch couches or down on the boathouse. Sleeping arrangements are only limited by your creativity.


What's the kitchen like?
The kitchen has an open layout with room for many people to cook and clean. We regularly accommodate large family gatherings. There is an electric stove and oven plus two refrigerators (one indoor and one outdoor). The kitchen is fully stocked with pots and pans.


Is there parking?
Yes, there are parking areas above and to the side of the cottage.


What kind of cleaning products can I use?
Since we have a septic system, we recommend using environmentally friendly, biodegradeable soap such as Dr. Bronner's or Seventh Generation.


Are sheets and towels provided with the rental?
Sheets and towels are available for a fee of $35.


Has anyone ever written a song about the Rice Heritage?
For over a hundred years people have savored their time at the cottage. It is likely that a few of them wrote songs... The only one we know about can be heard by clicking here.


Is this a good place for bird watching?

The Rice Heritage is a superb place for listening to and watching birds. Birds which have been sighted over the years include American crows, Bald eagles, Cedar waxwings, Great blue herons, Herring gulls, Kingfishers, Mallard ducks, Phoebes, Pileated woodpeckers, Wood peewees, Robins, Bluejays, Indigo buntings, Common yellowthroat, Catbird, Brown-headed cowbird, Song sparrows, Field sparrows, Ring-billed gulls, Wild turkeys, Cardinals, Yellow warblers, Vireos, Juncos, Red-tailed Hawks, Great black-backed gulls, Chickadees, Ruby-throated hummingbirds, Red-winged blackbirds, Goldfinches, Bristle-thighed curlews, Eastern screech-owls, Wood thrushes, Yellow-breasted chats, Whippoorwills, Northern flickers, Downy woodpeckers, Double-crested cormorants, Hairy woodpeckers, and a Cockatiel which had escaped from private home in Cayuga Heights. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Sapsucker Woods in nearby Ithaca is great place to learn more about the crucial roles birds play in the larger web of life on planet earth.


Is there swimming in the lake?
Yes, it is wonderful to swim in Cayuga Lake. The Rice Heritage has a protected stone beach with dock and raft appropriate for a wide range of water-lovers from babies to adults. When the wind is from the north, the water temperature can become particularly delicious. Water shoes are recommended. The nearest public swimming beach is Taughannock Falls State Park.


Can I fish at the Rice Heritage?
Yes, the cottage is a great place for fishing enthusiasts — with over a thousand feet of lakefront and a dock. There are Lake trout, Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Landlocked salmon, Perch, Sunfish, Carp, Pike, Rock bass, Smallmouth and Largemouth bass. Click on the wildlife button to learn about other animals who live near the Rice Heritage.


Can I hunt here?
The Rice Heritage property abuts New York State parklands, on which seasonal hunting (including bow hunting) is allowed with the appropriate permits. Click here for information about hunting in New York State.


Can I bring my boat?
There is an available mooring at a buoy in the lake. The nearest public boat launch is nearby at Taughannock Falls State Park. We STRONGLY encourage all boaters to wear life preservers at all times.


Is there a phone?
Yes, there is a phone with local service to the Ithaca 607 area code. Long distance calls can be made using a phone card or by charging the call to one's home phone. Some cell phones, blessedly, do not work here.


Do you have a TV?
There is no TV or internet access at the Rice Heritage, which was originally built in the early 1900s as a getaway from the busy metropolis of Ithaca by Anna Botsford Comstock and John Henry Comstock, who were professors of entomology and nature studies at Cornell. Cottage-goers savor the chance to escape for a while from the modern world. There are books, board games and puzzles. People sit on the front porch or the boat house deck and watch for kingfishers, hummingbirds and the daily commute of blue herons up and down the lake.


Is the cottage handicap accessible?
Only partially. There is a ramp that leads to the porch (first floor) level, and many older relatives attend family gatherings with patience and help from younger relatives. If you prefer not to use the ramp, nine steps lead to the level of the cottage porches with another step to enter the living room and kitchen areas. Two more steps lead to the bathroom, and the upstairs bedrooms are another ten steps.


Can I bring my pet to the cottage?
No, we are unable to accommodate animals at the Rice Heritage Cottage (both because of family allergies and also because of the "accidents" that inevitably occur).


Can you drink the tap water?
The tap water comes directly from the lake. We do not recommend drinking the tap water or using it to brush your teeth, although it is chlorinated. We recommend that you buy drinking water in plastic jugs from the store. You can also refill plastic jugs at Taughannock Falls State Park (nearby on route 89).


Is there a bathroom in your rustic cottage?
The bathroom is small but fully functional and includes a shower stall, toilet and sink. There is one electrical outlet (which is not adequate if many people need to use hair dryers, curling irons, etc.) The cottage is connected to a septic system, and we ask that guests use environmentally friendly, biodegradeable soap, such as Dr. Bronner's or Seventh Generation.


Is there a bath at the Rice Heritage?
There is no bath. There is an indoor shower. Many people enjoy bathing in the lake using biodegradable soap.


Is there heat at the Rice Heritage?
There is no central heating system. This is a summer cottage. There is a plug-in moveable radiator that can be used in a single room as needed and a wood stove in the kitchen (which can be operated by someone who knows how to take care of a wood stove).


Is there a washer-dryer?
No, we do not have a washer or dryer. The closest laundromat is up the hill in Trumansburg. There are clothes lines on the north porch for drying swim suits, towels, etc.


How deep is Cayuga Lake?
Cayuga is 435 feet deep at the deepest point off King Ferry (second only to Seneca Lake in depth) and at 384 feet above sea level is the lowest of the Finger Lakes. It is the longest of the Finger Lakes - just under 40 miles.


Can I swim across the lake?
That depends upon how strong a swimmer you are. Cayuga is 3 1/2 miles wide at the widest point, and has an average width of 1 3/4 miles. If you do want to swim across the lake, we strongly recommend that someone accompany you in a kayak or canoe. If you start from the far side of the lake, you can be welcomed by a celebrating throng of friends and family when you arrive.


What can you do on a rainy day?
Many people love to sit on the porch and read, slowing down and listening to nature. Some people prefer to hang out on the boathouse, watching the waves and marveling as different weather patterns blow up and down the lake. There are also shelves full of games, books and jigsaw puzzles. Many epic games of Monopoly and Scrabble have been played at the cottage, as well as endless card games from "Go Fish" to "Five Card Stud." Cooking food, mamking soup, and baking (cookies, brownies, pies, cakes, or cobblers) can also be a delicious undertaking.


What are other fun things to do while staying at the Rice Heritage?

The cottage is located four miles from Trumansburg, a village of 4,000 people with restaurants, grocery stores, a fair ground, and churches. We are also in the heart of wine country, with vineyards to visit and wine to taste up and down both sides of the lake. There are hiking trails at nearby Taughannock Falls State Park, as well as Buttermilk Falls and Robert Treman State Parks in Ithaca and the Fingerlakes National Forest in Hector. Cyclists savor the views on local, rural roads overlooking Cayuga. Hike or bike up a sweat, come back to the cottage, and plunge into the lake! There are golf courses in Trumansburg and Hillendale, and the Hangar Theater and Kitchen Theater are a short drive down the lake in Ithaca, where there is also a Sciencenter plus museums on the Cornell and Ithaca College campuses. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Sapsucker Woods is another wonderful place for nature walks and gifts for nature lovers, as is Cornell Plantations. At the north end of the lake is Montezuma Swamp, where bald eagles and other raptors nest. Historic Watkins Glen (which also has a world-renowned race track) is a 45 minute drive. Also nearby are the Corning Glass Museum, Museum of the Earth, and the Discovery Trail plus concerts on Saturday nights during the summer months at Taughannock Falls State Park.


What is the history of the Rice Heritage?
The cottage was built by Anna Botsford Comstock and John Henry Comstock. He was a professor of entomology, and she was a professor of nature studies and a wood engraver specializing in scientific illustration at Cornell University. It was bought in 1904 by James E. Rice, another Cornell professor who is known by many as America's first professor of poultry husbandry. Professor Rice had a 600 acre farm in Trumansburg, where he raised six children: Ruth, Paul, Alice, James Jr., John, and Betsy. He left the cottage to all six children and their descendants. The Rice Heritage was officially incorporated in 1967.


Are there insects at the Rice Heritage?
There are the bugs one would expect to find at a healthy lakeside cottage: daddy long-legs, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, pill bugs, spiders, etc. Rarely do we have mosquitoes, perhaps due to a breeze which regularly blows down the hill and through our porches. The local bird population also helps by eating a lot of bugs. One of the original owners of the cottage, John Henry Comstock, had a lifelong passion for insects. His wife and partner, Anna Botsford Comstock, was great at drawing them, too.


Where is a nearby place to get ice cream?

Cayuga Lake Creamery is 7 miles north on Route 89. Heritage flavors, high quality ingredients and large portions make this a local favorite.

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