Nevada’s largest cactus botanical garden is just off the Vegas Strip

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  • History of the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and the Cactus Botanical Garden
  • Things to do at Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Botanical Garden

Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden are located in Henderson, Nevada, about 15 minutes southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. The three-acre garden is home to ornamental and drought-tolerant cactus species and other succulents. There are more than 300 plant species half of them are cacti and the rest are succulents, mostly native to the American Southwest. The rest are desert trees and succulents from South America, Australia, and the southwestern United States. Freshly made gourmet chocolates are produced at Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden. Visitors to the factory and garden enjoy preservative-free chocolate while admiring the eclectic vegetation dominated by cacti.


RELATED: The 9 Perfect Destinations For Chocolate Lovers

History of the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and the Cactus Botanical Garden

Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden’s the origins date back to 1902 when Franklin confectioner and businessman Clarence Mars married Ethel Gale Kissack, a schoolteacher turned Ethel Mars. Franklin was then selling Taylor’s Molasses Chips in Minnesota. In 1904 they had a son Forrest Edward Mars Senior. In 1910 and 1911, Franklin Clarence Mars learned from his mother how to make custard candies in their Tacoma Washington kitchen and sell them.

In 1923, father and son brainstormed and created the Milky Way bar. Its success led to the hiring of full-time staff and in 1929 Forrest Edward Mars Senior joined the family business and retired in 1969. But in 1981 “unretired” Forrest Edward Mars Senior launched Ethel M Chocolates in Henderson, Nevada to honor his mother and used her 16 original artisanal chocolate recipes to make chocolates. He chose to open the factory in Nevada because the laws there allowed the production and sale of chocolates mixed with alcohol such as Bourbon.

RELATED: The Complex (and Fascinating) History of Mesoamerican Chocolate

Things to do at Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Botanical Garden

At the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden, the visitor itinerary revolves around chocolate, wine and visiting the famous cactus garden.

Visits to the chocolate factory

Tours are open and free to the public at the chocolate factory. Visitors can sample premium chocolate, sample wines, take self-guided tours of the factory aisles to see chocolate-making machinery in the production process, and purchase chocolate from the gourmet chocolate factory. In the iconic Ethel’s Kitchen, visitors witness the making of pecans, satin creams, peanut butter and toffees, and other confections. At the end of the tours, visitors can pass by the Cactus Garden Café and enjoy chocolate, tea, coffee, milk and tea with cupcakes, chocolate brownies, cannoli, strawberries, barks, oranges, marshmallows and pretzels.

Tasting course

At Ethel M Chocolate Factory, chocolate tastings last 30 and 45 minutes. Tastings include lessons in chocolate sourcing, refining, and production, and include the nuances of chocolate tastes and flavor identification. A chocolate tasting is paired with four Trinchero wines and mimosa cocktails. For wine, cocktail and chocolate tastings, participants must be 21 years of age or older.

These tastings are ideal for ladies’ evenings or couples wishing to spend an intimate moment together. After either tasting, a certificate is awarded to customers, who also receive 15% off same-day purchases of chocolate products from the factory. Tastings take place at 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Visitors must check in 15 minutes before the scheduled tasting time as late arrivals are not permitted. Tasting events are recorded and attendees can watch them later.

Cost of tastings

  • Adult $20
  • Adult 21 years old with wine $30
  • Children under 13 $10
  • Student $15
  • Groups of 15 to 20 people per person $18:50
  • Groups of 20 to 24 people per person $17

Cactus Botanical Garden

Botanical Cactus Garden has Nevada’s largest collection of beautiful species of cacti, succulents as well as desert trees and shrubs from Australia, South America and the Southwestern United States. It imitates the English landscape pattern of naturalistic design. garden plants were selected for their floral beauty and adaptability to the southern Nevada climate. Visitors stroll through the botanical garden and burn chocolate calories while taking photos and observing the scenic desert landscape.

During holidays like Easter, Christmas or Valentine’s Day, cacti and desert plants are decorated and illuminated with more than a million lights with colors like pink, white purple and red at night. This night lighting is worth experiencing. Throughout the year, visitors are welcome to the Botanical Cactus Garden and admission is free.

RELATED: Saguaro National Park: Home of Arizona’s (Vacation-Worthy) Giant Cacti

Chocolates to buy

At the factory, the chocolate varieties are beautifully packaged and can be purchased and given as gifts to friends on holidays and special events. Business gift chocolate packages range in price from $5 to $120 and can be given to customers or employees to show appreciation. On the site, chocolate lovers can select up to six varieties and prepare a personalized gift package. The packaging is carefully and beautifully designed for the different chocolate craft designs product. Some chocolate flavors available are nut, fruit, milk, white and dark chocolate, caramel, egg, sea salt, soy, peanut butter, lemon, almond, walnut pecan and liqueur.

RELATED: Top 10 Destinations For Chocolate Lovers

Food precaution

Since various ingredients are used to make chocolate products, visitors with certain food allergies are advised to read ingredient labels carefully before eating. Ethel M Chocolate Factory chocolates are intended to be consumed fresh or in 14 to 30 days after purchase. If they are to be consumed after 30 days, it is advisable to freeze them in an airtight container for up to 4 months. 40 to 45 Fahrenheit is the ideal refrigeration temperature. It is best to store chocolates from products with strong odors as they absorb these odors.

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