I’ve been living in Southern California for over a decade. By now, I consider myself a bona fide San Diegan—but deep down, I’ll always be a Brooklyn girl. It’s where I spent my formative years: I was born in Brookdale Hospital and raised in the heart of Canarsie, and I spent my teen years navigating the borough’s public buses using my student MetroCard. Plus, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t quite seem to get rid of my accent. (You should see the strange looks I get out here when I order a coffee.)
Unfortunately, it’s been a minute since I’ve booked a plane ticket back to my hometown (thanks, pandemic lockdown!), but writing My Epic Spring Break (Up) allowed me to revisit so many of the fun, familiar places that are near and dear to my heart. From my old high school to my favorite pizza joint, here are some key Brooklyn locales featured in My Epic Spring Break (Up). And for a virtual tour, check out this customized Google map!
Just like Ashley and her friends, I went to Edward R. Murrow High School. And just like Ashley, I was on the math team! Sadly, I didn’t get into coding until college, so I never participated in a high school hackathon. But I did have some really special teachers who encouraged me when the going got rough, just like Mr. Podonsky does when Ashley is struggling with her project.
This Sheepshead Bay establishment isn’t just a restaurant; it’s an experience. When you walk into Roll-N-Roaster, you’re instantly transported back to the 1970s—from the backlit menu board to the retro servers’ uniforms, nothing’s changed about this place since it opened decades ago. I still dream about the roast turkey sandwich and cheez fries that Ashley enjoys when she comes here with her BFFs. (Though if I’m in the mood for a roast beef sandwich, my first choice will always be Brennan & Carr.)
Another classic Brooklyn dining experience, Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend serves up Sicilian slices that are heavy on the sauce, as well as the best homemade rainbow spumoni you’ll ever taste. In the book, Ashley and Walker have their first date here, sitting at a metal picnic table in the concrete courtyard that’s enclosed by a chain-link fence. In real life, the lines at the walk-up windows are super long, but they’re always worth the wait.
Every season, there’s something new to explore in Brooklyn’s second-largest public park. Go ice skating in the winter. Visit the zoo in the summer. In the fall, you can watch the leaves change color at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. And in the spring, nothing’s better than lying out on the grass in the Long Meadow—which is exactly what Ashley, Christine, and Heaven do during their spring break.
The bridge is perhaps the most iconic landmark in the entire borough. Its gothic arches and web of cables make it instantly recognizable—and the views of the Lower Manhattan skyline from the center of the East River are divine. A romantic evening stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge is the perfect setting for Ashley and Jason’s first date . . . that is, if it were a date. Because it obviously isn’t. Right?