Ethel M's Chocolates is a Vegas favorite on the strip, but most people don't realize that there is an Ethel M's Chocolate Factory and 4-acre Cactus Garden a couple miles away. Both ventures are open daily to the public and are free.
The factory tour is disappointing, at best, but you do get a couple pieces of very good chocolate to sample. The interesting thing you go away with, however, is what this lady did for the world of chocolate. A very good hint is her last name - Mars. Yes, Ethel M's small venture evolved to produce not only dozens of varieties of superb chocolates, but also some of the world's more famous candies: M&M's, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Snickers and Mars Bars.
The M&M's in their shop remind me of Jelly Belly's - every flavor under the sun. I sampled Strawberry Shortcake (in a yummy pink coating). The flavor was spot on. Unfortunately, we hadn't brought a cooler and we were not heading back to the condo for a few hours. Remember, it's 88 degrees today. To hot to leave chocolate in the car, even M&M's! I may have to head back before we leave.......
I checked out their website to find they sell something like 25 colors of M&M's, but I didn't find anything about the flavored ones. Perhaps they are experiments ?
The gardens are in the early stages of full bloom. It's much later this year than last. Mary Ann says it's almost 2 months behind last year. Another reason to return.......
These are called Purple Pancake Cactus. I would say it's well named.
It was fun spending a couple hours with Mary Ann and Gene. We are both in camera club back home and enjoy getting together a couple times during the winter months out here.
Over 300 species of plants can be found on the grounds. Half are cacti and succulents largely native to the American Southwest, and the rest are desert trees and shrubs from the Southwestern United States, Australia, and South America. All of these plants were chosen both for the beauty of their floral displays and their ability to adapt to the climate of Southern Nevada. The types of rock used are Utah Bali Hai chocolate and Arizona moss rock (from the Grand Canyon region).
There's only two blooms right now, but I'm told in a good year the entire plant will be covered.
My favorite flowering plant was this one. It really stood out in the garden.
RJ volunteered to give the height some perspective by standing next to it. (Yes, he's carrying my handbag again) Imagine how beautiful this will be when the blooms open all the way to the top.
I think another visit is in the offing - chocolate and more flowers are calling..................