holiday cactus garden at ethel m chocolates

Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates, a Local’s Review

The holidays are here and in Henderson and Las Vegas that means our annual trip to the Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates – a family tradition.

Being born and raised here, we’ve always been a little spoiled by all of the fun we have at our fingertips, but Ethel M Chocolates is something that grounds me a bit.

If you aren’t familiar with Ethel M Chocolates, you will find deliciously fresh chocolates produced by the passionate Mars associates (and family!).

Inspired by the kitchen of Ethel Mars (which dates back to 1910), Forrest Mars Sr. created Ethel M Chocolates in his mother’s honor. Using her timeless recipes, Forrest’s vision of sharing fresh-crafted, small-batch, premium chocolates was born.


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Located in the heat and the heart of the desert, Forrest went to extraordinary lengths to produce our unique chocolates and fillings right here at his factory so that the quality of the chocolates would never be compromised.

Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates
Holiday Cactus Garden Lights

The craftsmanship and care required to create each batch of Ethel M Chocolates remain unchanged. Ethel M Chocolates are still made in small batches with no artificial preservatives, using only the freshest and finest ingredients.”

Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates

During the winter season, they host their annual Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates attraction in Henderson, a walkable wonderland of Christmas lights covering their cactus garden of trees, cacti, shrubs, and bushes native to Nevada and surrounding areas.

The best part?

The Holiday Cactus Garden attraction is an opportunity for Ethel M. Chocolates and families to give back. In years past, free entry with the donation of canned goods has now turned into a small $2/person donation to Three Square Pantry.

I love that when you plan your visit, it’s all going back to a great cause.

holiday cactus garden at ethel m chocolates
Holiday Cactus Garden Lights

Location

2 Cactus Garden Drive, Henderson, NV 89014

Ethel M. Chocolates is located just outside of Las Vegas in the arid Nevada desert.

Once you arrive, parking is free and there is a lot of it. If there is anyone in your party that needs to be dropped off before you park, you can drop them off right at the entrance, which is great especially for the elders in our families.

Hours of Operation

  • Dates: Nov. 3, 2023 – Dec. 31, 2023 (Opening Weekend, Nov. 3-5)
  • Hours: 5pm – 10pm, Nightly
  • Santa Visits: TBA

The Holiday Cactus Garden is open nightly until 10pm through December 31 – no reservations needed. So many opportunities for selfies and Instagrammable moments. And Santa is here nightly through Dec. 23 for pictures!

Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates
Holiday Cactus Garden Lights

Cost

If you are not interested in enjoying the Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates or visiting Santa, you can walk in to the store without any reservation. As I mentioned above, the Holiday Cactus Garden has moved from the donation of a canned good to a small donation of $2/person.

$2 per person.

This year, a $2 entrance fee per person is required and will be donated to Help of Southern Nevada and Three Square Food Bank. The entrance fee can be paid with either cash or credit card. Please note that they will not be collecting toys and non-perishable food items this year.

Tips For Your Visit

Go Early

The Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates opens up in early November. Because the holidays are a huge thing in Las Vegas with entertainment, travel, and tourists, we always recommend going in early November for a few reasons.

  • The weather is still somewhat warm.
  • There are typically no lines to see Santa.
  • You can enjoy everything without feeling rushed as it gets closer to the holidays.

If you decide to go mid-December, be prepared for lines, crowds, and a wait.

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Hot Chocolate at Food Truck Area

Buy Hot Chocolate On-Site

While they have the option to buy hot chocolate ahead of time, we prefer to get there a little early to walk in the shop, grab a sample of their chocolate and then order hot chocolate fresh. It gives us a chance to enjoy Ethel M before get too tired from walking and then we go buy chocolate afterward. You can also grab hot chocolate in the corral area (where the food truck is) and there are typically other treats on site you can buy from the truck outside.

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate Now Available 2022 Signage

PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE is back on their menu for 2023 as well as the following seasonal chocolates:

  • Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Satin Creme
  • White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice
  • Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Apple Caramel
  • Dark Chocolate Passionfruit Caramel Truffle
  • Milk Chocolate Bananas Foster Truffle
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Media Preview – Santa Meet & Greet

Be Sure to Visit Santa and Get Your Photos Taken

If you want to see Santa and get photos, but don’t want to wait in a long line, make your reservation within the first hour or so. After that, there may be a slight wait to visit him.

We usually head to the Holiday Cactus Garden between 5-6pm to avoid the large crowds.

Santa Photos in Las Vegas at Ethel M Chocolates
Santa Photos 2021

Stroller and Wagon Friendly

The Cactus Garden paths are stroller and wagon-friendly. While they do like to move things along, this is a great option for families with multiple children so they can all be in the same place and not sneak away to the cacti. They are also ADA Compliant and accessible throughout their entire facility.

Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates

P.S. here’s a quick link to our wagon pictured above.

Buy the Chocolate

Ethel M Chocolates are made fresh daily, in small batches with the highest quality ingredients and no artificial preservatives – which you know we LOVE since our families are pretty picky about what we put in our bodies. We love grabbing a couple of boxes of chocolates to have on hand for the holidays for gift-giving and thank-you gifts.

Their assorted holiday boxes are also amazing, which we snagged this year. Last year we did the Design Your Own Assortment.

PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE  is back on their menu as well as the following seasonal chocolates for 2023:

  • Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Satin Creme
  • White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice
  • Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Apple Caramel
  • Dark Chocolate Passionfruit Caramel Truffle
  • Milk Chocolate Bananas Foster Truffle

Take the Photos

There are so many instagrammable spots at the Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates – they even added a new light up present near the outdoor corral area.

Be sure to stop and enjoy and snap a few photos of your family to remember these moments and family traditions.

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Tunnel Photo Op

Have you been?

Have you been to the Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates? This holiday season you’ve got to get out to Henderson and experience Ethel M Chocolates Holiday Cactus Garden Lights—there’s no greater Las Vegas tradition and it’s been going on for over 25 years!

It is one of our favorite affordable family traditions to enjoy year after year and we love that Ethel M is based locally out of our beautiful home of Las Vegas.

2022 Highlight Video

Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates

Leanna Carson is an expecting mama via IVF and a serial entrepreneur.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, she loves sharing all things family-friendly as well as local spots most don’t even know about! She co-founded Nevada Moms in 2018 and it has become the #1 Family Guide to Nevada experiences, activities, happenings, and more.

Connect with her on social media or IRL @mrsleannacarson on Instagram.