Whether it’s Snickers, Dove, Twix, or M&M’s, we’ve all had Mars chocolate before. But did you know that after Forrest E. Mars, Sr retired, he created Ethel M Chocolates? It opened in 1980 as a project to cure his boredom. This boutique chocolate shop is located in Henderson, NV and focuses on producing gourmet premium chocolates.
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Last Updated: August 12, 2020
Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens
Named after his mother, Ethel M Chocolate factory has a free self-guided tour where you can learn more about chocolate making and the traditions of Mars Inc. Until we went on this tour, we had no idea how Mars Inc was affiliated to Ethel M Chocolates. Learned something new! :)
Touring Ethel M Chocolate Factory
The Las Vegas chocolate tour is along one hallway where you can see chocolate making in action! There are also videos you can watch to learn the history of Mars and Ethel M.
As a bonus, they give out free samples after the tour so you can try some of the best chocolate in Las Vegas. We decided to also pick up a couple of extra chocolate bars at the store for gifts.
What kind of chocolate do you prefer? We’re both dark chocolate people, but if we’ll take milk chocolate (or any chocolate for that matter) if it’s free.
They also have a more in-depth tour that requires reservations at least 48 hours in advance. On the tours, they take you on a 10-15 minute guided tour of the garden, you get more in-depth information as you walk through the factory viewing, you get to see firsthand the types of machines they use and their unique cooking techniques, and finally, you become a chocolatier and receive a discount. They even provide free water and courtesy umbrellas for hot days. Tours at $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12.
For those of you who really love chocolate, check out their in-store tasting experiences. The 30-45 minute experience walks you through the process of chocolate making. You then get to taste four premium chocolates. Prices range from $10-20. They also have a chocolate & wine tasting for those of you 21 years and older that is $30 per person.
Botanical Cactus Gardens
Outside the building, there is a four acre botanical cactus garden which features over 300 species of desert plants. It’s one of the world’s largest collections of its kind.
Below were some of my favorites, mainly because they were the most photogenic. They even have a space to have weddings if you’re looking for unique wedding experiences in Las Vegas.
The Saguaro Cactus “Giant of the Desert” lives up to 150-200 years.
The saguaro skeleton is a rare sight and takes decades to be completely exposed. Due to their unique appearance, they are often used as household decor and is the essence of the southwestern look.
The prickly pear! Every time I hear “prickly pear” it makes me think of “now when you pick a pawpaw or a prickly pear and you prick a raw paw”… Anyone know where this is from? ;)
Desert Bird of Paradise on the left, Purple Pancake Cactus in the middle, and Red Barrel Cactus on the right:
Baby bunny!! We kept chasing him down for photos. SO CUTE!
The cactus garden is extra magical during Christmas. Visit at night to see all the cacti lit up with Christmas lights.
Address & General Information
Tips for Visiting the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens
- A small branch of M&M’s World is attached to the factory.
- If you plan on buying chocolate to take home, be sure to check out the garden first so they don’t melt while you’re walking around. Ours did, so we ate them!
- Avoid going early afternoon since they change shifts. Otherwise you’ll miss all the action of running the line.
Do you have a sweet tooth? What’ your absolute favorite chocolate?
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Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.