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Evanston, Illinois

Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop

Shop of curiosities with a dinosaur museum tucked in its basement. 

A long time Evanston, Illinois, institution, Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop is a ground-level store that sells gemstones, fossils, jewelry, crystals, books, minerals, and other strange archaeological and geological delights. But it’s also a basement dinosaur museum that promises to “delight kids of all ages.”

Dave’s, which has been around for more than forty years in the same city, has a mission to “offer a wide variety of the most unique, high quality items at a fair price, and to educate [its] customers to the best of [its] ability about the items [it] sells,” according to the official website. “Stop by often, as we will frequently be updating and adding new things to the site and the shop,” it promises.

Open since 1970, Dave’s Rock Shop is a testament to the ability of the store and accompanying museum to live up to this mission. Founded by then twenty-year-old Dave Douglass, Dave’s is stocked with all of the goods that Dave and his wife Sandy have found on their extensive travels throughout the western United States, Mexico, and Canada.

In 1987, Dave and Sandy decided they had accumulated enough unique and rare pieces for their private collection that they decided to open a small museum in the basement of their shop that celebrates prehistoric life. By the following year, 1988, the David and Sandra Douglass Prehistoric Life Museum had opened to the public. It contains fossils from every geological time period going all the way back to the Pre-Cambrian times some three billion years ago. Some of the most prized items on display include a complete cave bear skeleton from France, small dinosaurs from China, amber with encased insects from Mexico, trilobites from the United States and Canada, and fossil crabs from Italy.

Know Before You Go

Take the Purple Line El or Metra to to the Main Street Evanston stop, then walk north and west a half block. Or drive north or south on Lake Shore Drive/Sheridan Road to Main Street.