TAKING A TOUR:

The Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave. (Santa Fe Building), Chicago, IL 60604-25000; (312) 922-3432, http://www.architecture.org . This is the city's major source for architecture tours. The most popular is the 90-minute architecture river cruise, which costs $23 Mondays through Thursdays and $25 weekends. Other tours range from broad overviews to highly focused — such as a look at buildings with Tiffany glass. In September, for example, the CAF lists 45 nonriver cruise tours: on bike, bus or foot. Prices range from $50 for some bus tours to $5 for some downtown walking tours. Except for the river cruises — which meet at the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue at Wacker Drive — most tours meet at the CAF's ArchiCenter Shop in the Santa Fe Building. Reservations needed only for cruises.

WHERE TO STAY:

The Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60603; (312) 726-7500, http://www.hilton.com . The city's oldest hotel, opened in 1875, replaced the original Palmer House destroyed in the great Chicago fire. Opulent lobby complete with ceiling murals. Walk to the Art Institute and everywhere in the Loop. Small, well-appointed rooms. Doubles from $124.

The Wicker Park Inn Bed & Breakfast, 1329 N. Wicker Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60622; (773) 486-2743, http://www.wickerparkinn.com . Small, quiet B&B in a remodeled 1890 brownstone north of downtown. Well-kept rooms. Continental breakfast with fruit, fresh-baked pastries, cereal, coffee, tea. Doubles from $125, with a two-night stay required.

WHERE TO EAT:

Medici on 57th, 1327 E. 57th St.; (773) 667-7394. Popular hangout in Hyde Park just a few blocks from the University of Chicago. Everybody calls it the Med. Wood tables carved with graffiti. Pizzas, burgers, chili, milkshakes. Entrees $6.50-$9.50.

Lou Mitchell's, 565 W. Jackson Blvd.; (312) 939-3111. Great breakfast place downtown. Local institution since 1923. Crowded, lots of bustle (no reservations). Tart-tongued waitresses. Omelets, pancakes, homemade baked goods. Big portions. Omelets around $8.

TO LEARN MORE:

Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616; (312) 567-8500, http://www.choosechicago.com .

— John Muncie