GETTING THERE: Northwest, American, Continental and Delta offer service to Rochester, Minn., from the Washington area's three airports. Round-trip fares, with restrictions, start at $304 (Northwest or American from BWI, through Expedia).
WHERE TO STAY: The city's top hotels, both less than a block from the clinic and under the same management, have long been the Kahler Grand (20 Second Ave. SW, 800-533-1655, www.kahler.com) and the Rochester Marriott (101 First Ave. SW, 877-623-7775, www.marriott.com). Standard rooms at the Marriott -- cheery and spacious, with comfortable beds and a seating area -- are $209 per night. The Kahler has economy rooms for $79 (rather dreary) and regular doubles for $109 to $139 as well as suites ranging from $249 to $2,500 (a 3,000-square-foot rooftop three-bedroom extravaganza). The Kahler has a spa, pool and fitness room. Check with the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau (see below) for a complete list of lodging.
WHERE TO EAT: The Lord Essex Tavern in the Kahler Hotel (507-282-2581) and the Oak Room (507-289-6000) in the Marriott are pleasant dining places. The Lord Essex offers British pub favorites -- bangers and mash, Scotch eggs, pot pies -- and also steaks and some seafood; lunch for two runs about $25, dinner $40 to $50. The Oak Room features American cuisine; lunch for two costs $20 to $25, dinner $40 to $50.
Michael's and Pappageorge Taverna, adjoining restaurants at 15 S. Broadway (507-288-2020), were opened in 1951 and are still family-owned. Michael's specializes in steaks, chops, fresh fish and Greek dishes; entrees from $15. Pappageorge is a more casual bar/grill, where you can eat pastas, pizzas or kebabs ($9.95) while admiring a delightful wall-size painting of a Greek harbor scene.
The City Cafe (216 First Ave. SW, 507-289-1949) has an inviting decor and a trendy "new American" menu; entrees from $14. The owners' City Market (507-536-4748), next door, has upscale sandwiches and salads. They also own the Broadstreet Cafe (300 First Ave. NW, 507-281-2451). Call it City Cafe with a French accent; lunch entrees from about $10, dinner from $20.
Mac's Downtown Restaurant (20 First St. SW, 507-289-4219), is a good, old-fashioned breakfast and lunch spot. Hearty standard fare plus some Greek dishes, and the only place nearby that opens for breakfast at 6 a.m. Breakfast or lunch for two runs about $15.
WHERE TO SHOP: Exquisite Leather & Luggage (101 First Ave. SW) does a big business with its custom-made jackets, fashioned from lamb leather imported from Italy ($499 to $1,200); luxurious luggage; cashmere capes trimmed in Mongolian lamb; and Mary Frances handbags. Nearby in the subway are two other elegant shops. Callaway Galleries sells handsome glassware and ceramics, paintings, prints and handmade jewelry by regional and nationally known artists. An over-the-top children's shop called Baby Baby will please the most indulgent parent or grandparent; an 18-month-size Miniman jacket will set you back $91.
Shops of particular interest in the Centerplace Galleria, directly across Peace Plaza, include Counterpoint -- Marimekko clothing, fabric and aprons, and a stunning line of kitchenware -- and the Nordic Shop, with a fine collection of imported dinnerware, glassware and cookware from Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Counterpoint specializes in reissues of classics; Iittala's famous Sarpaneva cast-iron casserole designed in the 1960s, for instance, is $250. You can buy a lefse griddle ($110) at the Nordic Shop to make traditional Norwegian bread.
As far as antiques go, serious shoppers should head to the small but choice Mayowood Galleries in the Kahler lobby. It offers 18th- and 19th-century English antiques and a small selective collection of antique jewelry. For browsers and flea market addicts, choices include John Kruesel's General Merchandise (22 Third St. SW), which has a striking collection of art nouveau and art deco light fixtures.
INFO: Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-634- 8277, www.rochestercvb.org.
-- Elinor Lander Horwitz