There are now thousands of known exoplanets in our galaxy and yet characterizing them remains a technical challenge. Solar System planets and brown dwarfs can serve as benchmarks for exoplanet observations and they provide high signal-to-noise data that we cannot yet access for exoplanets. My research combines instrumentation development with observations of brown dwarfs and Solar System planets to advance our ability to interpret exoplanet atmospheres. In this talk, I will present an overview of the NIRSPEC upgrade for Keck Observatory, which made the instrument more sensitive for observing exoplanet and brown dwarf atmospheres. Then, I will present preliminary work using upgraded NIRSPEC to track time-resolved varying spectral features to create 2D surface maps of cold brown dwarfs. Lastly, I will discuss a new instrument that I led for Lick Observatory, the Planet as Exoplanet Analog Spectrograph (PEAS) that observes Solar System planets as if they are point-source exoplanets.