Technically dumpster diving is illegal in San Diego, but nobody really cares that much.
Places to Dive at
- Big City Bagels in the same shopping center as the Trader Joe's in Hillcreast. The dumpster is in the shopping center off of 10th ave. There is a big metal gate that is never locked, walk in stock up, and leave. super easy, almost always full.
- Sprouts in Hillcrest, on Park Blvd. The dumpsters are in the back of the parking lot, they are never locked. Almost always abundant in produce, on occasion they throw out A LOT of 'beauty supplies' and vitamin supplements and that sort of stuff.
- Beach area: behind Einstein Bros Bagels on Lomas Santa Fe you can find fat bags of bagels for free! Slide the metal bar out of the latch, open the door and close it behind you. They close at 6 but be wary of the taco shop guy, he comes out back often. (Last checked: Jan.2012)
Clairemont/ Bay Ho/ Bay Park
Vons 47215 Clairemont Dr In gated area. Would be serious trespassing to get in there.
Big Lots 4829 Clairemont Dr Dumpster is shared with restaurants in the plaza which is not typical. I’ve been a few times and one time it was loaded with loaves of bread and cookies and such. Mostly junk food but what else would you expect at Big Lots? Some of the bread was decent quality whole wheat though.
CVS 4829 Clairemont Dr Dumpster is unlocked and easy to access but I didn’t find anything good in there
Smart & Final 5195 Clairemont Mesa Drive In gated area, seriously locked up.
Food 4 Less 4995 Shawline St Open and easy to access. Been a couple times and it’s always been very slim pickings of some packaged foods. Could be a huge score at time though.
Walmart 4840 Shawline Street Saw a trash compactor but the back was very busy. It didn’t appear to be a place for diving
Sprouts 4439 Genesee Ave Trash compactor
Balboa International Market 5907 Balboa Ave The dumpsters here are really nasty. I would avoid them completely.
Vons 5555 Balboa Ave In the back loading area I found 5 huge bags of day old bread set out on the pallets. This was about 50-70 pounds of bread. The dumpsters are inside a locked concrete area that can easily be jumped. I’ve been in a few times and a couple times had decent scores and other times at least found a little food. Worth a look but it’s never been a huge score.
Boudin SF 5407 Balboa Avenue I have not been here but I’ve been to the one in Encinitas which had 2 huge bags of quality bread in perfect condition so I recommend checking this.
CVS 5685 Balboa Ave Dumpster is out back and very easy to access. Have had success here. Personal hygiene items such as tampons, epsom salt, finger nail clippers, and dental floss all in brand new condition. Some packaged food as well.
Albertsons 5950 Balboa Ave The dumpsters are inaccessible. One Thursday morning they had compost bins out in the truck loading area and there was quite a bit of good bread in it. I assume they are only out when they are coming to be picked up. I went on a Saturday night and found nothing.
Target 5680 Balboa Ave Trash compactor
Panera Bread 5620 Balboa Ave The dumpster is easily accessible in the parking lot in very plain view. It is combined with a restaurant (Nature Foods) so it was kind of messy. I found some bread but not much. Could be good at times though.
Walgreens 5504 Balboa Ave locked and fenced. No way you’re getting in here
Rite Aid 5270 Balboa Ave Locked and a security guard
North Park Produce 4220 Balboa Ave Dumpster is in back, never locked, and very easy to access. It is always full of fruits and vegetables but it can be very sloppy at times and mixed with meat. Have gotten tons of apples, oranges, mangos, and so much more. One time I found 90 dozen eggs. It was 6 unopened cases of 15 cartons of a dozen eggs.
Keils 3015 Clairemont Dr. Dumpster is locked but easy to access. No way to get in there but I could peak inside and see that it was full of good food.
Rite Aid 3081 Clairemont Dr. I don’t remember if this was locked or not but I think it was not locked. I’ve only been once University City (between I-5 and I-805 and north of highway 52) Excellent diving to be had here. Friday is never good. Tuesday has been great. Wednesday is sometimes great sometimes not much
Sprouts 3358 Governor Dr This place is the absolute jackpot. They have three open top dumpster in a pretty private back area. During the day their back door is often open so it’s a bit harder to dive here and I’ve been asked to leave a few times. Night time is your best bet. I’ve filled up an entire trunk load here before tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and even dried goods like nuts and oatmeal. I’ve got dented cans of coconut milk, bottles of Komucha, and thousands of tortillas too. This is healthy dumpster diving heaven. Almost always more food than you can handle.
CVS 8915 Town Centre Dr The dumpster is around back in a quiet area, easy to access. It is locked but if you are slim you can squeeze in through the top and it could be well worth it. It’s been full of large amounts of packaged food like cookies, crackers, bottled water, drinks, and non food items like unopened memory foam pillows and boxes of kleenex, toilet paper, cat food, etc. I have been about 5 times now and it’s always good. Once I pulled $400 worth of candy out. Last time the security guard came and he was so friendly and talked to use for about 20 minutes. His name is Steve. Be kind and tell him you are rescuing the stuff to help others and he’ll be cool.
Vons 7788 Regents Rd I can’t find the dumpster here
Vons 3993 Governor Dr Dumpster easy to access. There was a lock on it but it was not locked. Maybe because it had just been emptied or maybe its never locked
Rite Aid 4077 Governor Dr Dumpsters are easy to access right behind store but have been locked every time I’ve gone. I asked an employee who was out there breaking down boxes once and he said that they don’t donate anything, it’s all thrown away.
Bristol Farms 8510 Genesee This can be a huge score. We’ve gotten tons of really healthy food and supplements out of the dumpster. Tea tree oil, bars of soap, toothpaste, Emu oil, a lot of really good stuff. Sometime there are compost bins out too that are often loaded with good fruits and veggies. Been over a handful of times and only score about 25% of the time maybe.
La Jolla This is a really great place for diving!
CVS 5495 La Jolla Blvd Have not been here yet.
CVS 7525 Eads Ave Stopped by one time while I was riding past on my bike during mid day. Dumpster is easy to access and unlocked. Found a ton of loaves of bread. This could be a really good spot.
Vons 7544 Girard Avenue Locked in a steel cage. No getting in there
CVS 8831 Villa La Jolla Dr Very easy to access but sometimes it is locked. I’ve got many loaves of bread, a twelve pack of beer, bottles of whisky, and lots of packaged food. Almost always is a good score when you can get in.
Ralphs 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive The dumpsters are in a gated in area that is often wide open. Their dumpster have been full of food before so it’s worth a check. Have been a half dozen times or so and there’s often a few big boxes worth of food in there from cakes to meat to bread to fruits.
Trader Joes 8657 Villa La Jolla Dr Trader Joe’s shares a compactor with many of the other places in the mall. The compactor is not locked so you can get in easily however it can be really full and hard to access stuff. When it is less full we’ve been able to pull tons of good really good food and bouquets of flowers. Almost always worth a dive. The food will be in clear garbage bags. Always worth a dive.
Pet Smart 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive They share a trash compactor with others I think. The compactor was not locked and this was the first one I’ve ever been in. Surprisingly the compactor is easy to navigate in and most of the stuff wasn’t very smashed. This compactor was loaded with over 100 pounds worth of dog food plus things like dog bowls, dog bones, toys, etc. A great score for pet owners. Have been back a handful of times and there’s often a huge supply of dog food.
Whole Foods 8825 Villa La Jolla Drive They have a compactor that you can’t access but there are also some dumpsters some of which are for recycling and others for trash. Found 2 jars of half used coconut oil in one one time and have only been twice. Also have found dozens of loaves of good bread.
Point Loma/ Ocean Beach This area has a lot of locked dumpsters. I would guess this is because their is a large population of people living on the streets. You could hit all of the unlocked stores in about 2 hours and probably do pretty well though.
Fresh & Easy 955 Catalina Blvd Always a little food but not much. Hop the wall and the dumpster is unlocked. Worth a stop always
Ralphs 1666 Locust St Easy access dumpsters in a gated area but in a very visible area in the parking lot. I’ve been a handful of times but never really found anything good.
Trader Joes 2401 Truxton Rd Dumpsters in an a gated area that is connected to the store. The gated area is not locked so you can get in but its definitely store property and they might not want you in there. The dumpsters are not locked and have had some good bounties of food.
Vons 2495 Truxton Rd Locked gate and locked dumpsters. When I was there a year ago neither the gate or dumpster was locked but we also never found much food there.
Panera 2445 Truxton Rd Shares a dumpster with a a bunch of other stores in Liberty Station. Never found any Panera Bread in the dumpster here.
Sprouts 3315 Rosecrans St The dumpsters are in an locked fenced in area that is connected to the building. You’d have to climb the fence and go there late at night when nobody is working. I wouldn’t recommend this place.
CVS 3327 Rosecrans St Locked but could see inside and there was nothing. Maybe able to squeeze in there.
Einstein Bagels 3305 Rosecrans St Easy to access dumpster, found a huge bag of fresh bagels, probably about 100 bagels. They were in a sealed and clean trash bag. They likely get out a fresh garbage bag, fill it with all the unsold bagels from the day and toss it out every night. This was a Wednesday around 10 PM
Walgreens 3005 Midway Dr There is a trash compactor locked behind a fence. No getting in here
Smart & Final 2804 Midway Dr In a completely enclosed locked fence. No getting to this
Petco 3495 Sports Arena Blvd Locked tight but have only been once
Ralphs 3345 Sports Arena Blvd Accessible dumpsters but never have found anything in them
Vons 3645 Midway Dr Locked dumpsters but may not always be locked
Barons Market 4001 West Point Loma Blvd Behind barbed wire enclosure. No getting to this.
Grocery Outlet 3498 West Point Loma Blvd Been a couple times and always get some food. The first time the dumpster was loaded with good food but it was locked and we could only reach enough to fill about a box before a security guard came. The second time there was an unlocked dumpster with food. This place is watched by a security guard during the day and into the night that asks kindly that you leave. I’ve never been after 10:00 PM so am not sure how late the guard works.
CVS 3950 West Point Loma Blvd This place is watched by a security guard during the day and into the night that asks kindly that you leave. I’ve never been after 10:00 PM so am not sure how late the guard works. I didn’t get a chance to look at this dumpster because I was at Grocery Outlet next door and the security guard came.
Stumps 3770 Voltaire St This spot typically has some good produce. Definitely worth a dive. usually I get a few bags or a boxes of food but not a trunk full. The dumpster is around back (not the ones on the side) and is unlocked and easy to access.
Rite Aid 4840 Niagara Ave I’ve never been here yet
CVS 4949 Santa Monica Ave Dumpsters are in locked gated area but easy to climb and dumpsters inside are unlocked. The dumpsters inside maybe just the recycling dumpsters though.
Pacific Beach There are quite a few locked dumpsters here so it’s not a gold mine but it’s certainly worth diving if this is the neighborhood you live in.
Vons 1702 Garnet Avenue This place can be a massive score. They set out a huge pallet of food for composting. It’s boxes and boxes full of good fruits, veggies, and flowers that have never even touched the dumpsters. A sign says that it is for animal consumption, but it’s obviously good stuff. There is often huge bags of day old bread from the bakery too. The “compost food” is only out on occasion and I don’t know the routine. The dumpsters are open but I’ve never found food in them
CVS 1792 Garnet Avenue The dumpster is in the alley behind the store. It is always unlocked but I’ve never found anything good in it. It’s often full of trash that other people dump in it.
Einsteins Bagels 1772 Garnet Ave Went one time at night and found a ton of perfectly good bagels. Dumpster is easy to access in visible part of parking lot
Trader Joe’s 1211 Garnet Ave Security guard in parking lot and dumpsters are in gated area. Not sure of the gated area is locked but if the security is there all night it’s really unlikely you could dive here. Late night might work though.
Sprouts 1260 Garnet Ave Dumpsters are in alley and have been locked every time I’ve passed by. Recently I rode my bike passed and saw the dumpster were not locked. Could be a really good score if the dumpsters aren’t locked
Albertsons 730 Turquoise St Dumpster was easy to access and unlocked but empty. Could be a good spot.
Ralphs 4315 Mission Blvd Dumpster is in gated area with no access. No chance here.
CVS 4445 Mission Blvd Dumpsters are behind locked enclosure that is only 6 feet tall and easy to climb over. Dumpsters inside are not locked. Have been huge scores of packaged food here like frozen pizzas and bread.
Chula Vista I spent one night diving in Chula Vista and highly recommend this area. Dumpsters are mostly unlocked, very few signs that say no trespassing, and I expect lots of great scores are to be had down here.
Hometown IGA 646 E St The dumpster is easy to access and unlocked. It was empty on Friday night after 10:00 PM. Could be a great spot for diving.
Garden Farms Market 370 E St Dumpster is in barbed wire fence connected to store but unlocked
Fresh & Easy 691 3rd Ave Dumpster is in a gated area that was unlocked with no signs advising against entry. It was empty on Friday night after 10:00 PM. Could hold some good scores
Sprouts 690 3rd Ave Didn’t see the dumpster but the compost bins were out and easy to access. They were empty on a Friday night after 10:00 PM. Probably a great location for diving
Albertsons 720 3rd Ave Pulled out about 3 boxes worth of perfectly good produce and about 30 loaves of bread. This is an excellent spot. Dumpsters are easy to access and out back. Success on Friday night around 10:00 PM. An employee happened to come out to throw more stuff away while we were in the dumpster and told us to leave but they were cool.
CVS 880 3rd Ave Dumpsters are easy to access and out back. Did not find anything in them this time though on a Friday after 10:00 PM.
Vons 870 3rd Ave Dumpsters are easy to access and out back. Did not find anything in them this time though on a Friday after 10:00 PM.
Northgate 1058 3rd Ave Trash compactor and no dumpster. This place is a no go as far as I can tell.
Walgreens 1111 3rd Ave Dumpsters in a locked in area with a sign that says no trespassing. If you go after store closed you should be fine. Hopped in and found a lot of hygiene stuff like makeup, chapstick, as well as children’s toys.
North County- Del Mar area and Solana Beach
Jimbo’s 12853 El Camino Real – Easy to access but in a very busy parking lot so I recommend night time. Can be a great spot. I got a huge box of fresh beet greens and a huge box of celery once and other time found nothing. I think it was from their juicing bar.
Vons 3850 Valley Centre Dr. One dumpster was locked and the other was unlocked. Didn’t find any food but worth a check. There was a cart of about 50 loaves of quality bread in back but I didn’t take it in case it was there for donation.
Ralphs 3455 Del Mar Heights The dumpsters in an unlocked gated area. I’d recommend this place at night since it’s a but of a busy area but we dove during the day and pulled about 3 or 4 boxes of food out of the dumpsters. Good diving here!
CVS 2662 Del Mar Heights Rd Dumpster is in gated area and unlocked. Can be a good score.
Del Mar Wine Company 2654 Del Mar Heights Road Tons of liquor, chips, and candy. Easy to access dumpster
Sprouts 659 Lomas Sante Fe Dr – Solana Beach Locked up tight
CVS 683 Lomas Santa Fe Dr- Solana Beach Easy to access dumpster but empty when I went
Panera 667 San Rodolfo Dr – Solana Beach Easy to access dumpster but empty when I went
Einstein Bagels 911 Lomas Santa Fe Dr – Solana Beach Easy to access dumpster but empty when I went
Vons 931 Lomas Santa Fe Dr – Solana Beach Dumpsters locked
North County- Encinitas and Carlsbad Excellent area for diving. A majority of the dumpsters are not locked and it’s easy diving up here with many large bounties of food to be found!
Smart & Final (479 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas) Dumpsters are not locked and very easy to access. We got a huge score of fresh produce there- apples, mandarin oranges, broccoli…
CVS (455 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas) Locked but possible to get in there. Got a 24 pack of bottled water, could be a very good dumpster at the right time
Sprouts (1327 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas) It’s a trash compactor but you can open it from the front. Got a big box of quality food out of it.
Trader Joes (115 N El Camino Real, Encinitas) The dumpster is in a gated area but is open and easy to access. It was empty when I was there but I bet this would be a good dumpster.
Ralphs (125 N El Camino Real, Encinitas) The dumpsters are in a gated area but is open and easy to access. 2 huge bags of sushi and a lot of food. It was a bit of a messy dumpster
CVS (129 N El Camino Real, Encinitas) Locked but someone agile may be able to squeeze in
Vons (262 N El Camino Real, Encinitas) Trash compactor that is innacessable
Boudin SF (296 N El Camino Real, Encinitas) 2 huge bags of quality bread in perfect condition. Dumpsters are to the left of the store down an alley way
Big Lots (333 N El Camino Real, Encinitas) Dumpsters are locked but you can get in there. Tons of house goods in there and a fair amount of food
99 Cents Only (Lomas Sante Fe Plaza 145 S El Camino Real, Encinitas) We got 5 huge bags of quality produce. All in tied double bags, fresh off the shelves. Dumpsters are in gated area that are very easy to access
Walgreens (1320 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas) Behind an 8’ tall gate with a no trespassing sign and cameras. Would take the right person to attempt this dumpster!
Stater Bro’s (1048 El Camino Real, Encinitas) Trash compactor
Walmart (1550 Leucadia Blvd, Encinitas) Has compost bins that are locked tight
Einstein Bros Bagels (1006 N El Camino Real, Encinitas) We got a huge back of bagels and pastries here. Dumpsters are easy to access in gated area
Subway (1560 Leucadia Blvd, Encinitas) Dumpsters are easy to access in gated area. Did not find anything though
Jimbo’s (1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad) Excellent! Tons of organic produce. Be courteous here because the management came out and were a little annoyed.
Panera (1935 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad) Dumpsters are easy to access but were empty
Sprouts (3243 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad) Trash compactor
CVS (7740 Rancho Santa Fe Rd, Carlsbad) Locked dumpsters
Vons (1153 Rancho Santa Fe Rd) Dumpsters easy to access in gated area. They were empty though
I have not been diving in this area myself. These notes are from a friend.
Sprouts 9361 Mission Gorge Rd – Santee Trash compactor
Food 4 Less 9430 Cuyamaca Street – Santee Trash compactor
Fresh & Easy 9751 Mission Gorge Rd – Santee Out of business. Will be a Grocery Bargain Outlet soon
99 cents only 9751 Mission Gorge Rd – Santee Found some very old produce.
Costco 101 Town Center Pkwy – Santee Was not able to find the dumpster
Cvs 9730 Mission Gorge Rd – Santee Easy access to dumpster behind building. Found a trash bag full of bread, bagels, etc.
La Mesa / Lemon Grove/ SDSU area I have not been diving in this area myself. These notes are from a friend.
Sprout’s 4630 Palm Ave La Mesa No access, locked
Von’s 8011 University Ave La Mesa Easy access
Walmart 8810 Grossmont Blvd La Mesa No access to dumpsters
Target 5500 Grossmont Ctr Dr La Mesa Trash compactor CVS Grossmont Ctr Dr La Mesa No access, locked
Trader Joe’s 5495 Grossmont Center Dr La Mesa Dumpsters locked
Food 4 Less 7420 Broadway Lemon Grove Locked
Smart and Final 7117 Broadway Lemon Grove Easy access to dumpsters
Sprouts 3205 Lemon Grove Ave Lemon Grove Locked
Albertson’s 7090 Broadway Lemon Grove Easy Access to dumpsters but didn’t find any food
Rite aid 6405 El Cajon Blvd San Diego Couldn’t find any dumpsters
CVS 6265 El Cajon Blvd San Diego Locked
Vons 6155 El Cajon Blvd San Diego Locked
Ralphs 6670 Montezuma Rd San Diego Locked
Hill Crest / Mission Hills / North Park / Normal Heights I have not been diving in this area myself. These notes are from a friend.
Wholefoods 711 University Ave San Diego No dumpster found
Ralphs 1030 University Ave San Diego Dumpster locked behind fence
Trader Joe’s 1090 University Ave San Diego No dumpster found
CVS 313 East Washington Street San Diego Dumpster locked
Albertsons 422 W Washington St San Diego Locked and behind locked fence
Vons 515 W Washington St San Diego Empty dumpster but easily accessible
Sprouts 4175 Park Blvd San Diego This can have a large amount of good quality food. People take a lot of this food and feed it to people in need on Wednesday and Saturday nights so please don’t go those nights. And be 100% certain not to leave a mess because we don’t want to ruin it for the good people using this source of food. Be very courteous if you run into an employee but go well after store hours to make sure that is not the case.
Haggen Food 2235 University Ave San Diego Easy access to dumpsters but no food found
CVS 3151 University Ave San Diego Dumpsters were accessible but nothing found
Walgreen’s 3222 University Ave San Diego Dumpsters were accessible but nothing found
Fresh and Easy 3231 University Ave San Diego Dumpsters were accessible but nothing found
Vons 4145 30th St San Diego Dumpsters not accessible
Pancho Villa Mexican market 3245 El Cajon Blvd San Diego Two dumpsters were accessible but empty
North Park Produce 3551 El Cajon Blvd San Diego Lots of food but it was all moldy produce. Could be good at times
Vons Normal Heights 3610 Adams Ave San Diego Dumpster locked
Rite Aid Normal Heights 3650 Adams Ave San Diego One open dumpster and one locked dumpster
- REI in Kearny Mesa sometimes has good stuff. The destroy a lot of the stuff that they throw away, but I have found a nice pair of boots, and a water bottle, and know people who have also found some good stuff there. Not worth going out of your way, but if your on that side of town at night, stop by just for fun!
- The 99cent store around 26th and market is always full of things that will make you laugh, and also might be useful, like a bag of rubber bands... The dumpster is right in front of the store, so it is best to go late at night.
- add more?