By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 25, 2008 at 8:11 AM

Although I've been to Chicago dozens of times -- usually alone, with my significant other or with friends -- our second family weekend trip to Chicago has taught me a few things I didn't know about the Windy City.

1) To the delight of some toddlers -- or at least one -- there is always construction taking place outside a Downtown Chicago hotel room window.

2) Also to toddlers' delight, one can, apparently, always see the El from those windows, too.

3) Downtown Chicago now appears to rival Disney for family fun. I remember the '80s when Randolph Street -- home to two bus stations and the Amtrak depot -- was a symbol of all of the Loop: seedy, rundown and depressing. Nowadays -- while there are still homeless people asking passersby for help -- most people in Downtown Chicago on the weekend are pushing strollers and consulting department of tourism maps. Head over to Navy Pier and you'll see one of the epicenters of this. 

4) Millennium Park is a great success, despite construction delays and some general griping. On a warm Saturday afternoon, every aspect of the park is alive. The fountain is full of romping kids, the ice cream stand and the cafe are doing great business and tons of people are oohing and aahing at Gehry's stunning pavilion and Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture, known to all as "The Bean."

5) The Art Institute of Chicago remains a major tourist destination despite the fact that construction of the new expansion has closed some galleries, relocated others and sent many of the Impressionist and post-Impressionist treasures, in the words of one employee, "to Texas." We had a relatively brief visit -- but no briefer than one should expect with a toddler -- that was a mix of fascination (the garden restaurant fountain, dragon sculptures in the Asian art rooms, etc.) and frustration (where are all the great works we want to share with our heir?). Luckily ARTIC is so top-loaded with treasures that there is still plenty to see.

6) Turin's Lavazza coffee empire now has at least three branded cafes Downtown and the one we stopped in was fabulous. It was great to have a real Italian-style breakfast and have it taste just like it would in Turin. Plus, they sell bricks of coffee there, too, so I could stock up on my favorite: Lavazza Qualita Rossa. Hmm, should I buy a franchise for Milwaukee?

7) Toothbrushes are a "high-theft item" in Downtown Chicago. This according to the Walgreen's employee who opened up the locked cases of them so I could buy a replacement for the one I lost. I have mixed feelings about this. Of course, no store should have to suffer "shrinkage" -- not the George Costanza kind, the shoplifting kind -- but, hey, at least Chicago thieves are concerned about their dental hygiene. Or maybe they're used in making basement meth or something. I dunno.

8) A lot of people in Chicago don't like the Cubs. I saw loads of anti-Cubs T-shirts and they didn't all appear to be on tourists. My favorite featured a Coke logo-styling of the word "Choke" above the phrase, "The official beverage of the Cubs." We did see a lot of Sox hats and at least one blue and orange, old-style Brewers road hat.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.