Ethel Mars began making fine chocolates in a little candy kitchen in the early 20th century. Her small enterprise evolved to produce not only dozens of varieties of superb boxed chocolates, but also some of the world’s most famous candies: M&Ms, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Snickers, and Mars bars. Alas, the tour lasts only about 10 minutes and consists entirely of viewing stations with an audiotape explaining the chocolate-baking process. Even more sadly, you get only one small chocolate as a sample—delicious, but hardly satisfying. There is a fully stocked gift shop if you want to buy more, or if you want to go nuts, chocolate tasting classes are available hourly. Note: Come before 2:30pm, which is when the workers start to pack up and go home.
What’s really worth seeing is outside: a lovely and extensive 4-acre garden displaying over 300 species of rare and exotic cacti with signs provided for self-guided tours. It’s best appreciated in spring when the cacti are in full bloom, or in December when the entire garden is bedecked with holiday lights.
- Rick Garman