DESTINATION GUIDE

Austin Guide

The insider scoop and how to make the most out of SXSW with hot locals and The LINE Hotels

Written by Samantha Shankman, edited by Tansy Kaschak on 02.24.22

Get to downtown Austin on a Saturday night, and the energy rivals any international cosmopolitan at the moment. It’s become the place where our smart, innovative, and creative friends in tech, art, music, and the biz-game are going to not only build projects and expand empires but also step into a higher version of their connected selves — crystals may or may not be included. SXSW turns the dial fast past 100, and we expect this year to be something of a combination of the Berlin Biennale, Art Basel, Glastonbury Festival, and 2000-era San Francisco rolled into one. What started as a small meeting point for artists and media became the zeitgeist in 2022.

Located right on Lady Bird Lake, The LINE Austin has history and heart, and it will be our home base as we want to be at the center of the action, which is why you’ll find us starting up, cooling down, and hosting friends at the crossroads where Town Lake meets Downtown.

The LINE Hotel in Austin
The LINE Hotel in Austin
Said The Sky experiential music at SXSW 2017. Image by Ryan Loughlin
Said The Sky experiential music at SXSW 2017. Image by Ryan Loughlin
Artist Desirée Valencia
Artist Desirée Valencia

What to Know About SXSW 2022

The annual celebration of music, film and the Internet SXSW is about to shake up the Texas capital once more this March 11 – 20, 2022. It will welcome creatives from every corner of the globe for conversation, kismet, a dining scene with much more strut than your average Tex-Mex, and maybe even a touch of soul searching.

The event, now recognized worldwide, began in 1986 as a series of conversations about the future of entertainment and media in the offices of The Austin Chronicle. While the music was the reason for first coming together, the crew had a penchant for exploring new ideas and inclusiveness from the get-go. The first official event was held in March 1987 and grew a little more each year until the Interactive and Film tracks were added in 1994.

Right as the Internet sparked a paradigm shift, SXSW became a kind of home for film and digital communities — keeping its doors open the last three decades. Today, the event is not confined to a single conference hall or even venue — the entire city is in on the fun, and SXSW is a hell of a way to explore the town’s magic.

The nuts and bolts:

Art filled spaces at The LINE Hotel
Art filled spaces at The LINE Hotel

Art at The LINE Hotel Austin

Displaying the coolest upcoming artists and serving as a looking glass into the local art scene, The LINE Austin will showcase works from central Texas artists throughout the hotel as part of the SXSW Artist Program. There will also be a special installation in the hotel’s West Lobby from Desiree Vaniecia and a giant mural on the South Congress Street wall by J.D. Moore starting on March 6.

The LINE Austin regularly hosts artists through the LINE Residency — a six-week opportunity for local artists to experiment and create in a new environment. Executed in partnership with the Big Medium, they have access to a private studio space to share their process and host events with hotel guests and locals. The Artist in Residence throughout SXSW — starting March 14 through April 24 — will be painter Hannah Lee.

A painting by Hannah Lee, artist in residency at The LINE
A painting by Hannah Lee, artist in residency at The LINE
Artist J.D. Moore will be painting a giant mural on the The LINE's South Congress Street wall
Artist J.D. Moore will be painting a giant mural on the The LINE's South Congress Street wall

Dining at The LINE Hotel Austin

While the food scene in Austin is on fire — and we’re not just talking BBQ — some of our local favorites can be found under one roof at The LINE Austin.

A good morning starts at Alfred — LA’s most beloved coffee and matcha purveyors — which The LINE thankfully brought from LA to Austin. (Not that there’s no excellent coffee in Austin, but we’ll get to that later.)

For a heartier meal, an absolute must is Arlo Grey — the lakeside restaurant by Top Chef 10 winner Kristen Kish whose culinary approach beautifully mixes French and Italian traditions with Midwestern downhome cooking. The menu at Arlo Grey is stylish, nourishing, and comforting. If you are arriving in town from colder climates, the outdoor seating is probably a priority, in which case the hotel’s rooftop lounge P6 is a delicious choice. With views of Town Lake and the South Austin skyline, you can nosh on a menu of Mediterranean small plates and seasonal cocktails while watching that bright Texas sun paint the sky red.

And — of course — the stop of all stops Veracruz All Natural. What started as a taco truck has become a phenomenon thanks to sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez expertly importing the flavors of their hometown in Veracruz, Mexico. So grab your order at the takeout window to enjoy it on the patio or lake.

The restaurant at The LINE
The restaurant at The LINE
The-LINE-Hotel-A-Hotel-Life-34
The LINE Austin's pool and yoga deck with group sessions every Saturday at 8 am
The LINE Austin's pool and yoga deck with group sessions every Saturday at 8 am

Wellness at The LINE Hotel Austin

Just like SXSW is an unlikely but kind of perfect mix of art, tech, and business, Austin itself has become a hub of sweet contradictions. Whether that’s the nature intertwined into a city, a similar casual and fine dining celebration, or late nights designed around bourbon and live bands that pair with a culture of wellness and spirituality. If you’re staying at The LINE Austin, you can start your day with yoga on the pool deck every Saturday at 8 am and use the LINUS bikes to pedal through the city.

The rooftop at The LINE
The rooftop at The LINE
Austin views at the crossroads where Town Lake meets Downtown
Austin views at the crossroads where Town Lake meets Downtown

Where else to dine 

If you’re looking for a place to cozy up with old pals or new connections in Austin, we recommend booking now as seats will go fast.

Some of our community’s favorites are Aba for Mediterranean-inspired small plates (conveniently located next to Soho House), Intero Restaurant for farm-to-table Italian and nose-to-tail meat dishes, Qi Austin for upscale Chinese and dim sum, Salt & Time for their famous burger and renowned steaks, and Lutie’s Garden Restaurant at the Commodore Perry Estate for amazing vegetarian plates set in an old-world Texas glamor.

If you’re looking for the BBQ experience in Austin, trust us and take the 20-30 minute drive out of town to visit the original Driftwood location of the famed Salt Lick BBQ. On a sprawling countryside road, the open skies and feeling of freedom are almost as delicious as the menu itself. Also out of town but worth the trek if your crew is looking to escape the crowds for a moment is dinner at the charming hotel The Wayback or lunch at breweries like Jester King and Treaty Oak.

Aba café
Aba café

If brunch is more your calling, then you can’t go wrong with the classics at Mattie’s, which serves its buttermilk biscuits and milk punch french toast in a historic mansion at Green Pastures. Or try  Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile, which is as known for its chicken fried steak and waffles as its challah French toast and smoked chicken migas.

For local coffee shops that bring caffeine with a side of personality, check out Civil Goat Coffee on Guadalupe or Greater Goods Coffee in East Austin. Greater Goods’ business model is based on giving back to local nonprofits like Central Texas Food Bank and Austin Pets Alive, making their Fronk’s lattes taste even better.

Greater Good Coffee
Greater Good Coffee
Alchemy's founder Carly Brown
Alchemy's founder Carly Brown

Where else to realign bones and chakras

Wellness can come in a high-intensity workout or a gentle hike in nature during a week of meetings and mingling. Luckily both are easy to come by around Austin.

Located steps away from SXSW venue ZACH Theater is Alchemy Organic Juice Cafe, where you can swing by for organic cold-pressed juice and adaptogenic hot drinks to get your morning started right with local entrepreneur and Alchemy founder Carly Brown. The cafe is located inside the Casa de Luz complex – a staple for the local health community since the 70s, where you can also enjoy macrobiotic meals in an outdoor garden.

If you’re looking to work up a sweat before exercising your mind, there’s the swoon-worthy pilates studio at Peach House Pilates. And while appointments usually book out months in advance, you can try to snag an acupuncture session with Dr. Ron Banuelos at HEAL Austin.

Common Fords Ranch
Common Fords Ranch

But the smartest thing to do in Austin is to pair your workout with some fresh air. There are more opportunities to immerse yourself in nature in Austin than we’ve seen in almost any other major city. Zilker Park is a 361-acre park nestled in the heart of Downtown from which you can walk around Lady Bird Lake, take a dip in Barton Springs Pool (a massive 3-acre swimming pool fed by three natural, underground springs) or stroll through the park’s botanical or sculpture gardens.

To experience more Central Texas nature, The Wayback’s founder Sydney Sue, a born-and-raised local, recommends hiking Common Fords Ranch in Westlake. Also, the sprawling outdoor garden Laguna Gloria at The Contemporary Austin is located 5 miles outside Downtown, whose grounds are filled with works from international contemporary artists.

If you have an extra day and are looking to get away, Pedernales Falls State Park is just an hour outside Austin and boasts more than 5,000 acres open for camping, hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, and horseback riding.

Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park

Where to spend that series B fundraise money

For the fashion attuned, Austin is first and foremost a haven for vintage shopping. Lining South Congress and in pockets throughout the city, vintage shops rival New York and LA with that extra Southern funk.

If you’re looking to adopt a more traditional cowboy or cowgirl look from the best in town, stop by the Stetson retailer Maufrais or its sister store next door Allen Boots. For more high-end shopping, there’s nothing better than independent luxury and lifestyle boutique ByGeorge or the home interiors at Maaribu, recommends Sydney.

The eclectic shop by George Sydney
The eclectic shop by George Sydney
Group Therapy
Group Therapy

And, finally, where to cheat on your sober promises

For a cocktail bar with a dark and sexy vibe to end the night, try Garage and their great cocktails in an underground speakeasy. Roosevelt Room serves crafted concoctions in an industrial-chic space or Devil May Care  (how good is this name!), who regularly changes the decor of the entire underground space — recommendation of New York transplant Kelly Feehan.

Group Therapy at the Hotel Zaza serves cocktails and small bites if you’re trying to stay outside past sunset and soak up those warm Southern nights. Another everybody’s favorite is Justine’s Brasserie which serves Downtown’s tastiest late-night meals as vintage vinyl plays across its dimly lit patio.

The legendary Broken Spoken
The legendary Broken Spoken

And while there are plenty of places to see and be seen in Austin and you’re likely encounter many throughout SXSW, there are still some famed honky tonks in town where you can hear music nightly while shooting pool. Local musician and fiddle player Ross Brown travels around the country playing shows on stage, but when he’s home in Austin he’ll swing by Broken Spoke, C-Boys’ Heart & Soul on South Congress, and Saxon Pub for live country, R&B, soul, and funk music – and recommends you do the same.

Check out our review of The LINE Hotel Austin, here.

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