GETTING THERE: Hartford is about an hour's flight nonstop from Washington. Piedmont and USAir are among the airlines serving Bradley International Airport from here. Piedmont currently is quoting a round-trip fare of $128, based on a seven-day advance purchase and a Saturday-night stay. The fare is nonrefundable.

GETTING AROUND: A car is not necessary to tour downtown Hartford, which can be seen best on foot. The one-way taxi fare from the airport to downtown is about $21 with tip.

WHERE TO STAY: The most convenient hotels to the historic area are the Parkview Hilton (203-249-5611), which overlooks Bushnell Park, and the Sheraton Hartford Hotel (800-325-3535), which is part of the Hartford Civic Center complex. Hilton's weekday rate begins at $104 a night for two people and $79 on Friday and Saturday. The Sheraton's weekday rate begins at $113 a night for two people. The weekend rate is $69.

WHERE TO EAT: For excellent northern Italian cuisine in an elegant setting, try Gaetano's at the Civic Center Plaza. For a quick lunch, the ethnic carryouts in the Pavilion at State and Main streets. The office crowd gathers for drinks after work at Arne's in the Pavilion, a pleasant place for people watching.

INFORMATION: Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc., 1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford, Conn. 06103, (203) 728-6789. -- James T. Yenckel