Outside, you have the natural beauty of the cactus garden, with its paths for strolling and shady lanes even on the hottest day. This is a photographer’ s dream, with the tiny vibrant blooms and huge cacti and trees. You may even see some of the resident bunnies or lizards, not to mention a family or two of quail if you sit quietly and watch for a while.
Inside the building, you can visit the M&M store (and who doesn’t like M&M’s!). Here you can find every conceivable M&M product – chocolate, apparel and decorative – that you could imagine! My favorite place is the “mix your own” station, where you can make your own special blends in plastic bags – as much or as little as you like! Great for stocking stuffers or take-home treats!
When you walk out of the M&M store, you reach the history of chocolate, Ethel M’s and the Mars Retail Group. You can revisit the time-line, listen to a video and then walk along the chocolate factory – seeing where the product is actually made on premises! Even though the head office has moved to New Jersey, chocolate is still produced daily at this factory. It’s not something you commonly get to see anymore!
Then you move on to Ethel M’s Gift Shop, after sampling the goods. You may be offered white, milk or dark chocolate coins, the outstanding pecan brittle, or other samples, depending upon when you visit. Of course, the samples make you want more! In the store, you can purchase pre-packaged boxes of chocolates of all sizes and types, create your own boxes at the counter, or buy other preservative-free chocolate items at one of the different displays. All chocolate products for sale are made in the factory. There are hot and cold beverages and ice cream at the beverage counter. You can even purchase a cup of hot chocolate, made with real melted chocolate. Chocolate bliss!
Afterward, you can either take another stroll of the gardens with bags in hand, or head back to the parking lot, knowing that you will be back sooner rather than later.
Obviously, every day is special, but after mid-November, during the Christmas season, Ethel M’s cactus garden really comes into its own. Over half a million little lights adorn the different trees and cacti, and there are Christmas decorations galore. The sight literally takes your breath away. You may even see the “big man” himself as Santa pays a visit to pose with children. Carolers from various schools can sometimes be heard singing seasonal favorites. Store hours are extended to 10 pm every evening and best of all, it’s free!
So, come visit this magical chocolate wonderland and celebrate all the seasons at Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory and Botanical Garden, an oasis in the desert just outside the Las Vegas Strip.
Address: Ethel M Chocolate factory, 2 Cactus Drive, Henderson, NV