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 opened a boutique chocolate shop with gourmet premium chocolate after he retired? Ethel M Chocolates opened in 1980 in Henderson as a project to cure his boredom.
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Last Updated: February 6, 2021
Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens
Ethel M Chocolate factory is named after his mother and 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 with Ethel M Chocolates. Learned something new! :)
Ethel M Chocolate Factory Tours
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, and you get to see firsthand the types of machines they use and their unique cooking techniques. 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:
Holidays at Ethel M Cactus Garden
The cactus garden is extra magical during Christmas and for the two weeks before Valentine’s Day called Lights of Love. Visit at night to see all the cacti lit up with lights.
This is typically a free event, but to help keep everyone safe, you are required to have reservations right now. There is a small fee to make a reservation but 100% of it is donated to a local non-profit.
If you’re hoping to take some photos of yourself with the lights, visit around sunset.
Address & General Information
Ethel M Factory Las Vegas:
2 Cactus Garden Drive
Henderson Nevada 89014
Although there aren’t any chocolate factory Las Vegas strip locations, you can do a chocolate tasting on the High Roller.
They also have gift shops at the McCarran International Airport at gates C, D, and E.
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.
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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.
This Post Has 61 Comments
I had no idea Mars candy originated in NV! The bunny is too cute and the garden looks like it was fun to explore. I love fancy chocolates from any kind of local chocolate shop (and by local I mean wherever we are visiting)
I don’t think mars candy originated in NV. I think he just ended up retiring in NV and opening up Ethel M. Not sure where mars candy originated from.. I think I read it dates all the way back to 1800s. Im sure they were all over the place.
Sorry Esther…clearly I did not read closely enough!! Still cool!
no worries! :) I actually didn’t know where they started Mars company so I had to look it up just now. I can’t believe it’s been around for so long.
A visit to the chocolate factory sounds like a dream come true for the 10 year-old me who read Charlie and the Chocolate factory! :D I love Twix and M&Ms but I prefer dark chocolates on most days. And OHMYGOD I’ve never ever seen sucha giant cactus in my life *gasps* so amazed!! It’s nice to spot a little bunny in the wild, I’ve only seen squirrels here.
That would be pretty awesome if there was a willy wonka chocolate factory like the one in the book / movies!
All of that chocolate looks divine!
I don’t have a sweet tooth but I do love touring factories. When I was young there was a Hershey’s chocolate factory near Ottawa, Canada (I lived just across the border in NY). We would go once a summer to this factory, watch the production, and stock up on broken or disfigured OHenry bars. We would freeze them. I’d eat one or two, but love the experience. My brother and sister could eat pounds and pounds of them. So.. I have a fondness for chocolate factories, needless to say, even though I’m not a big fan of chocolate or sweets. This looks like a really interesting factory.
I feel like the Hershey’s one would be really awesome to go too! Were the disfigured ones free or discounted? :) I need to go check it out one of these days!
Looks like a great day.
Mmmmm. Now I want chocolate!
I’m getting myself some! You should too! Happy Fourth!! :)
How cool! I didn’t know that they were connected. I need to start posting about local stuff so that I can link up again
It’s nice that you can knock them both out in one visit! :) Feel free to link up older local adventures too!
Thanks! I linked up an older post :)
awesome! checking it out now! :)
Looks like a fun tour and a BEAUTIFUL area!
Can’t go wrong with learning about and eating chocolate! :) The cactus garden really was so beautiful!
I love Ethel M! During Christmas the lights are so beautiful there!
Ooh that does sound lovely! I need to check it out during Christmas! Luckily we live here until at least May.. so we’ll get to see it. :) How long have you lived in Vegas?
so fun! we live really close to hershey, pa, so it’s fun to go on their chocolate factory ride!
Oh that sounds like a lot of fun! I’m sure they have it built up much bigger and nicer. :) I feel like I’ve my parents took me there when I was a little kid.. but I was too young to remember.
Looks like so much fun! I’d love to go to a chocolate factory!
You should visit!! :) Now I’m curious about some of the other chocolate factory tours.
Beautiful photos!! That sounds like a dream come true for a chocoholic like me! <3
Thank ou! You should visit one day!! :)
YUM! Chocolate factory, I’m in!
It’s an amazing place for chocolate lovers! :)
How fun!! This looks like such a great time
Thanks for reading! :)
Oh interesting! I haven’t heard about Ethel M Chocolate before. Are they good? We just went to a chocolate museum here in Barcelona! Haha … oh btw prickly pear are suppose to be good for your skin! You should try take one so we can make some facial oil and masks :p
Ooh! That makes me excited!! Hmm.. I’m not a super chocolate connoisseur so I’m sure you might know better. We just ended up getting ones with liqueur.. which then it’s harder to taste the chocolate. I liked the ones you got me from London though! Those were tasty.
yay! i’m glad you like them! yea i never heard of them until i went to london and they were more tastier than i thought they would be!
This is my kind of adventure!! Seriously loving your blog and I’m so glad I discovered it through Grow Your Blog!
Glad I found you though GYB too! :) I love how encouraging your blog is to those who are married.
Thank you so much, you are so kind!
Chocolate factory is always a great place to visit! And the botanical garden is just geourgeous! I love your pictures!
Thank you Joanna! :) Have you been?
There are a lot of artisan chocolate factories here in Ecuador and I have had the opportunity to have visited a few. It’s amazing to see the chocolate made by hand. But I have never visited a big factory like this.
aw that baby bunny is so cute!! I want to go to a chocolate factory!
I know!! we were chasing it for a good half an hour haha
oh wow, i love such a sweet touch that i have a root canal done to sort me out but i am still eating (this time carefully lol)
I’ve had root canals too.. Those are not fun! :P Never learned my lesson though.
You guys are the best. Move to San Francisco, let’s be best friends and go on double dates. HAHA! I think I’ve earned the title of creeper status.
I have a fun post that will definitely go with this! I’ll post it soon!!
Haha not creeper at all. Actually.. funny you say SF. There’s a slight chance we might be moving next May!! :D
this looks so fun! and omg, your photos. i am so jealous. what’s your set up? …or maybe its on your about page. i’m going to go look now. happy 4th!
Thanks so much Jenn! :) RIght now I use a canon 5d mark III, and I think on this trip we brought a 50mm / 1.2. I only have it because I used to do wedding photography for almost a decade.. and when i quit i decided to keep on taking photos for personal reasons. :) happy fourth!! hope you have a great one!
sounds like my dream set up! one day… :) for now i’ll just drool over your beautiful photos!
We love it!! I would definitely recommend the 50/1.2 at the very least. :) That’s one of my fave lenses.
Love this idea!
Thanks! Would love for you to join in if you like to explore locally! ;)
I love this! Especially the cactus garden!! You’re making me itch for a visit to Nevada!
YOU SHOULD! You guys can stay with us if you like! :)
FUN! Sounds like a really awesome way to spend the day! The cactus garden is super cool!
Can’t go wrong with learning more about chocolate and getting to eat some at the end! haha :) I love taking photos of cacti so this was perfect! Thanks for reading. :D
What a cool thing to do! I LOVE the cactus garden, that is seriously awesome!
I love cacti a lot lately too! I wonder if it’s pinterest brainwashing me though.. bc i see them everywhere! haha
Are the chocolates shaped like little barrels? So cute.
They are! I think bourbon barrels.. and we got ones with different liqueurs inside. :)
I can’t wait to join in on this!
Thanks Britt! :) Who doesn’t love chocolate! :P