Las Vegas is served by McCarran International Airport, 5757 Wayne Newton Blvd. (tel 702/261-5211, TDD 702/261-3111; www.mccarran.com), just a few minutes’ drive from the southern end of the Strip, where the bulk of casinos and hotels are concentrated. The airport is known by the code LAS.
Most major domestic and many international airlines fly into Las Vegas, and the city acts as a major routing point for low-cost Southwest Airlines.
The airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 serves mostly domestic carriers with four sets of gates. A and B gates are accessible to the main ticketing area and baggage claim by (very long) hallways, while most of the C and all of the D gates are reached by tram. The ultramodern Terminal 3 primarily services international and some domestic carriers like United with its 14 gates.
In case you’re wondering what happened to Terminal 2, it closed when Terminal 3 opened. Why they didn’t re-number things is a mystery.
Each terminal has its own baggage-claim facility and services such as dining, shopping, and traveler assistance, along with ground transportation areas for taxis, buses, and shuttles to the rental-car facility.
And yes, all of the terminals and baggage claims have slot machines just in case you want to lose a few bucks while you’re waiting for your luggage.
The main highway connecting Las Vegas with the rest of the country is I-15; it links Montana, Idaho, and Utah with Southern California. The drive from Los Angeles is quite popular and can get very crowded on weekends as revelers make their way to and from Las Vegas.
From the east, take I-70 or I-80 west to Kingman, Arizona, and then U.S. 93 north to Downtown Las Vegas (Fremont St.). From the south, take I-10 west to Phoenix, and then U.S. 93 north to Las Vegas. From San Francisco, take I-80 east to Reno, and then U.S. 95 south to Las Vegas.
Vegas is 286 miles from Phoenix, 759 miles from Denver, 421 miles from Salt Lake City, 269 miles from Los Angeles, and 586 miles from San Francisco.
Bus travel is often the most economical form of public transit for short hops between U.S. cities, but it’s certainly not an option for everyone. Though getting to Vegas this way is cheaper, especially if you book in advance, it’s also time consuming (a 1-hr. flight from L.A. becomes a 5- to 8-hr. trek by bus) and usually not as comfortable. So you need to figure out how much time and comfort mean to you. Greyhound (tel 800/231-2222 in the U.S.; tel 001/214/849-8100 outside the U.S. without toll-free access; www.greyhound.com) is the sole nationwide bus line.
The main Greyhound terminal in Las Vegas is located Downtown next to the Plaza hotel, 200 S. Main St. (tel 702/384-9561), and is open 24 hours. Although the neighborhood around it has improved dramatically, it is still a busy bus station and so normal safety precautions should be taken in and around it.
Megabus (tel 877/462-6342; www.megabus.com) operates coaches from Los Angeles to the Regional Transportation Commission’s South Strip Transfer Terminal at 6675 Gillespie St. near McCarran International Airport. From there you can easily transfer (hence the name) to many of the city’s bus routes, including those that travel to the Strip.
Amtrak (tel 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) does not currently offer direct rail service, although plans have been in the works for years to implement a high-speed railway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We’ve been hearing these reports for so long now, they just make us roll our eyes.
In the meantime, you can take the train to Los Angeles or Barstow, and Amtrak will get you to Las Vegas by bus, which takes 5 to 6 hours depending on traffic.