San Marcos is famed for its shopping. So much so that in 2006, ABC’s “The View” ranked the city as the third best shopping destination in the world. The city has a number of interesting boutique stores for people looking for unusual clothes and gifts. But the big draw here is the two mega shopping outlets, Prime Outlets and Tanger Outlet Center, which offer a combined 1.2 million square feet of shopping. The upscale Prime Outlets has luxury shopping not seen anywhere else in Texas. Across the street lies the massive Tanger Outlet Center that has brand-name and designer items at bargain-basement prices. Drawing in an estimated 7 million people annually, the San Marcos outlets are the third-largest tourist destination in Texas. The outlets are popular because they have stores such as Gucci that can’t be found anywhere else in the state, and chain stores that have bigger selections than in their sister stores in other area malls, says Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, director of the San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau. “It’s destination shopping, and with 240 retailers, it’s all about selection,” Ybarra-Ramirez says. Prime Outlets, in particular, is not to be missed. If the luxury shops such as Escada Co., the Giorgio Armani General Store and Kate Spade aren’t enough to lure you, the center’s breathtaking architectural design will. Prime Outlets underwent a $50 million extreme makeover in 2005 designed to mirror the famous landmarks of Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. The expansion includes a 173-foot tower modeled after the Campanile di San Marco, the tallest building in Venice. The Nieman Marcus Last Call building is modeled after the Italian city’s clock tower. The designer shops here are still outlets and offer bargains on what otherwise might be some pretty pricey merchandise. Across the street from Prime Outlets is Two P’s Boutique, a shop that prides itself on helping women find the perfect outfit for every occasion, whether it be going to a wedding or attending a state dinner. “We say come in, and we’ll play dress up,” says Two P’s Boutique owner Pam Couch. “We have a staff that is trained to know what will look good on you.” Prime Outlets has a lot to offer, she says, but Two P’s offers personalized service. The ladies boutique features designer clothes and gifts for women of every size and budget. Next door is Calli’s Sassy Boutique, a shop named after Couch’s daughter that caters to college women. The two stores attract a lot of mothers and daughters shopping together. Finally, you won’t want to miss the Tanger Outlet Center, which boasts more than 100 stores carrying brand-name merchandise at discount prices. Stores such as Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Reebok, Old Navy, Ellen Tracy, Nautica Kids tempt shoppers, as do a variety of eateries, including Outback Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, The Fudgery and Tropicana Smoothies. Tanger, located at 4015 Interstate 35 South, is open daily and often stages special sidewalk sales and other events.