8 Best Things to do in Blue Earth, MN

Blue Earth origins

Traveling through southern Minnesota along I90, you may notice a town by the name of Blue Earth. You may ponder the unique name. Why is the town called “Blue Earth.” Is the earth really blue? Let me explain.

They named the town after the Blue Earth River, which surrounds the town. They named the river after the blue-black clay found along the river’s bank. So, yes, there was a blue tinge to the soil. 

But as you will see, the city of known for another icon – The Jolly Green Giant, which is a must-see.

1. Jolly Green Giant

Blue Earth, MN is known for its rich agricultural roots. In the past, Blue Earth was home to a vegetable canning factory, Green Giant. The vegetables processed are all grown locally–specifically sweet corn and peas.

You really can’t miss the Green Giant statue. Take the Blue Earth exit from I90 and travel about a half mile south and look up. There he is. All 55′ of him, with a 4′ smile. You can’t miss him.

An interesting fact: the statue is on the list as one of the top 10 statues in the U.S. They boast over 10,000 visitors a year

So why the statue? It was a brainstorm of Paul Hedberg, the owner of a local radio station who wanted to put Blue Earth on the map. 

And that he did.

There is a small park nearby and plenty of picture-taking opportunities. This is definitely a major tourist must-stop for those traveling through southern Minnesota along I90.

Jolly Green Giant Museum and Visitors Center 

And while you are there, stop in and check out the Jolly Green Giant Museum located near the statue. It is chockful of Jolly Green Giant memorabilia and interesting displays and facts. 

Model of the Green Giant plant

Jolly Green Giant Family Fun!

Looking for a fun activity while visiting Blue Earth? 

There are 20 uniquely painted Little Sprout statues placed around Blue Earth. So what is a Little Sprout? Think of a child version of the Jolly Green Giant. The original Little Sprout character was designed to encourage children to eat their vegetables. 

Let the fun begin with a Little Sprout hunt. If you take a selfie with all 20 statues, you can win yourself a prize. Check out the Jolly Green Giant park area for more details. 

Tell Me More About the Jolly Green Giant Canning Company 

The original company, Minnesota Valley Canning Company, was started in 1903 by canning sweet corn. Shortly thereafter, they began processing peas. 1925 was the birth of the Green Giant as a mascot. The Green Giant Company is based out of Le Sueur, MN, but Blue Earth had a major Green Giant vegetable processing plant. 

Today, the Blue Earth canning processing company is now Seneca Foods, which cans mostly sweet corn and peas under other food labels.

2. Best Fudge In Town 

On your way to the Jolly Green Giant, you need to stop at the Shell Food Mart, located just off of I90 and Highway 169. They have the BEST fudge. They make it fresh and the taste confirms that. So good!

And you can order it through the mail!

Shell Food Mart – Best Fudge
Best Tasting Fudge

3. Cedar Inn

Are you looking for an old-fashioned local town and relaxed fun eating experience? Blue Earth has a drive-in eatery called the Cedar Inn. You can pull up with your car, order, have the food delivered and eat without leaving your vehicle. Or during the warm months, enjoy your food outdoors at a picnic table.

Where do you find the Cedar Inn. Keep traveling south on Highway 169 past the Jolly Green Giant and you will find it.

The extra perks? No freeways, very little traffic, and time to practice a little self-care. You just can’t beat that.

4. Cabin Coffee Co. 

Looking for a coffee shop. Yep, Blue Earth has one. Enjoy a cup of coffee located just off of the I90. Cabin Coffe Co. is a small franchise offering coffee and food items. Again, all based in a small town environment. 

5. Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant

Looking for a good homemade meal? Check out the Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant located near the Jolly Green Giant. The sample menu tells all. Homemade food and good-sized portions from the farm.

You will also see one of the Little Sprouts statues greeting you? (There are 19 more around town!) 

Farmer’s Daughter menu sample

6. Steinberg Nature Park

Need some time to stretch your legs? Want to enjoy some nature? Steinberg Nature Park is the place to be. Nice walk trails while viewing the Blue Earth River. 

Steinberg Nature Park

7. Blue Earth Library Mural

Honoring literary greats: Mark Twain, Laura Ingals Wilder, Dr. Seuss, and William Kent Krueger. These plaques are on the wall of the Blue Earth Library. I LOVE this!

Blue Earth Libary

8. Blue Earth Rest Stop

Most rest stops are pretty bland. However, the Blue Earth rest stop is not. I remember in 1978 when I90 was a big deal because they finally completed it. This area symbolized the last four miles of I90. 

Picture of the roaming buffalo in years past
Tall Grass Prairie walkways located at the Blue Earth Rest Stop

Just for fun

I just had to add a “fun” section. I was in Blue Earth during the city celebration – Giant Days. I looked at the downtown store windows and this is what I see. Naturally, my curiosity shot through the roof. I needed to learn more about this gentleman. So very cool that they honored him during their celebration. 

Who is Sammy L. Davis? (think Forrest Gump)

Sammy Lee Davis is an American soldier who served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and was awarded the nation’s highest military medal for valor, the Medal of Honor. The acclaimed movie, Forrest Gump (who didn’t love that movie!), was based on his military experiences. His story is amazing

Just for Fun Part 2: Need a dog walker? I came across this note on one of the store’s windows. Melt my heart. This screams what small-town America is. 

So I highly recommend people stop in Blue Earth, MN. Either stop in as they are traveling or make it a Minnesota Road Trip. You won’t be disappointed!

More southern Minnesota Travel 

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