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Want to know about Houston? Ask Veronica!
Veronica Nielsen likes to point out that she’s a Texan by choice, not by circumstance. “I wasn’t born here, but I came as soon as I could,” the Pennsylvania native explains. She’s turned her love for the city of Houston into a career as the information source behind the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s popular “Ask Veronica” website feature.
Wondering what to do when it rains in the city? Veronica can tell you. Looking for the freshest seafood? Ask Veronica where to go. Want to know about the area’s recreational opportunities? Veronica has the answers. What to wear? How to get there? Who to see? There’s no question too big or too small for Veronica.
“I really like what I do. I don’t even feel like it’s a job. It’s kind of like a one-on-one with an audience.” Her background as a professional blues singer prepared her for the attention, but it doesn’t help much when competitive fans challenge her Houston smarts, trying to stump her on city historical trivia or popular cultural references.
It’s not easy to trip her up, however. She spent 10 years working as a concierge for luxury downtown hotels, and her success depended on knowing the ins and outs of everything from mundane details such as the location of the nearest dry cleaner to up-to-the-minute sports and entertainment schedules. “You have to have a pulse on the city,” she explains. The CVB corralled her knowledge 11 years ago, installing her in an office at their city hall headquarters in the heart of the theater district.
She good-naturedly enjoys everything her position as the resident expert brings — the expectations, the ribbing, even the repetitious requests for information on places to stay and what to do with kids, two questions that frequently come across her “Ask Veronica” desk, she says. Her most unusual query came from a man moving to Houston from Chicago. “Will I experience culture shock?” he asked Veronica. “Well, I don’t know,” she answered. “I’ve been to Chicago and didn’t have any culture shock there.”
Just keep in mind that if you ask Veronica why she likes Houston so much, you should be prepared to settle in for a long chat.
“I’ve just always cared for the city,” she says in summary. “It’s got such a hometown feel, with a beautiful downtown and nice towns surrounding it. And it’s maintained beautifully and has the friendliest people.”
Her love for Houston really extends to the entire state. The name Texas, from a Caddo Indian word meaning allies or friends, perfectly describes what she sees as the most hospitable place on Earth.
And Houston has something to offer everyone, she says. From the fourth largest museum district in the country, to 6.3 miles of underground tunnels, to major league sports, to Space Center Houston and Discovery Green, to wild entertainment and colorful history, Houston appeals to all ages and interests.
So book that trip you’ve been thinking about. And just ask Veronica if you have any questions.