The Road To Beautiful Scenic Texas Cities

by Sarah Tober on August 1, 2019 in Living Texas,
00 Chisolm Trail Museum Cuero e1564598519774

If you’ve not heard about the Scenic Texas Cities, and why they are so important for citizens and visitors, then here is your chance to catch some communities committed to beautification in the Lone Star State.

The Scenic City Certification Program recognizes cities for their demonstrated commitment to high-quality scenic standards for public roadways and spaces. This is not a beauty pageant, but make no mistake these cities are committed to beautification, a cause that was near and dear to Lady Bird Johnson’s heart and a mission that is being carried out by Scenic Texas.

Marble Falls

Main Street, Marble Falls. Photo courtesy Scenic Texas

This Texas Hill Country hub city first participated in the Scenic City Certification Program in 2016, earning Bronze level recognition. The Scenic City assessment made note of the city’s innovative Historic Downtown Wayfinding Program and Historic Downtown Landscaping program. Both programs integrate streetscape enhancements to project a positive image while honoring the city’s heritage. [Editor’s note: Read more about Marble Falls in our recent #TravelTuesday article.]


Southlake Town Square Family Park. Photo courtesy Scenic Texas

Fostering a distinctive sense of place is a high priority for Southlake, which first participated in the Scenic City Certification Program in 2012 and ranked-up to Platinum certification in 2017. Through strict adherence to a thoughtful urban design plan, Southlake is committed to cultivating the city’s unique identity. Enhancing the visual quality of its built environment and scenic areas defines the character of this North Texas city.


Christmas in Downtown Cuero. Photo courtesy Scenic Texas

A growing city dedicated to preserving its cultural, historical and natural character, in 2015 Cuero developed a Unified Development Code to bring its environment in line with the community’s long-term vision. Soon after, Cuero gained its first Scenic City certification, earning Silver certification in 2015. Cuero built on this base to greatly strengthen its Sign Code and earned Gold certification in 2017.

This year, 21 Texas cities were recognized as 2019 Certified Scenic City award recipients. Nine cities earned certification for the first time and 12 re-certified or upgraded their status, bringing the total number of certified cities across Texas to 82.

“The Scenic City Certification Program, is a nationally recognized one-of-a-kind model, developed to provide communities with a comprehensive set of standards and evaluations for the design and development of public roadways and spaces.”

Any Texas city may apply to the Scenic City Certification Program for an objective review of its existing municipal infrastructure ordinances as they relate to the model standards. Assessment is points-based, and every city applicant receives a detailed, scored evaluation that identifies both strengths and areas for improvement. Official certification is earned by cities that score points in the upper range and meet threshold standards for landscaping, tree planting, and sign regulation.

Joining Scenic Texas as partners in the Scenic City Certification Program are the Texas Municipal League, Urban Land Institute — Austin and Houston, Urban Land Institute — San Antonio, American Planning Association Texas, Houston-Galveston Area Council, American Council of Engineering Companies Houston, Hill Country Alliance, Keep Texas Beautiful, Texas Downtown Association, Texas Economic Development Council, Texas Historical Commission, Association of Rural Communities in Texas (ARCIT), Texas Association of Regional Councils, North Central Texas Council of Governments, Scenic Houston and Scenic America.

Through the Scenic City Certification Program, Scenic Texas provides educational resources to Texas cities that are establishing or revising ordinances that impact the streetscapes. Additionally, Scenic Texas supports urban forestry projects, tree planting and preservation initiatives, the creation of scenic roads and districts, the establishment and funding of parks and green space, the forestation of our highways, and the preservation of historic areas.

Cover: The Chisholm Trail Museum, Cuero. Photo courtesy Scenic Texas

Sarah Tober is Executive Director of Scenic Texas, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of our state’s visual environment, particularly as seen by the traveling public.