Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is served by all major USA Carriers, including American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest and United Airlines out of their hubs in Chicago/Dallas, Houston/New York, Atlanta/Salt Lake City, Minneapolis-St Paul, Chicago Midway, and Chicago/Los Angeles respectively. Among the smaller carriers, Alaska Airlines flies from the west coast including Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. America West can also be an inexpensive way to travel from Phoenix.
Driving by auto there can be faster if you are coming from Los Angeles (435km) or San Francisco (804km). If you are really adventurous, the Greyhound Autobus is a cheap 39,00 USD one-way from Los Angeles and takes 6 hours to make 8 stops along the way. Check out the Mojave McDonalds! From LA to Las vegas, one-way, the autobus is only 10 dollars less: a round trip ticket on a major airline can be less than 100$ from Los Angeles International (LAX)
The southern part of 'The Strip' is visible from the airport. The panarama on the photo bar (left) was taken from a windown at McCarran International. It is less than 10km in distance and costs less than 15USD with no traffic.
The last two trips, I purchased round-trip tickets on the airport shuttle. The cost was 10 USD. From the airport, there was always an autobus waiting. The Strip hotels are the first stops, so this was extremely convenient for me.
The return journey was another story. The ticket instructions specify that reservations be made 24 hours in advance. When the call is made, the return times seem to be evenly spaced in two-hour intervals. In my case, this meant an undetermined time spent on the autobus stopping at other hotels and then finally to the airport. This seemed inconvenient. I made my own decision to pay the extra taxi fare for an 1,5 hours in Las Vegas city.
Unless there is a reason to leave the city, there is no need to hire an auto. Municipal busses can be seen driving up and down the Las Vegas Strip. During the day, this is very regular. During the night time hours, the wait can be 0,5 or 1 hour. The timetable says that this is more frequent, but my own experience is that the busses will bunch together and be more irregular than planned.
There is also a Tram that runs the length of the Las Vegas Strip. In 2000, I rode a limited version of this Tram. It was 1,75 USD versus 2,00 USD for the autobus. However, when I was there in 2004 November, it was closed due to safety concerns. I think there was some engineering design issue, and no one knew when or if it could be resolved.
There is also a historical street car frame with an autobus engine that is privately operated. This cost 2 USD and ran the length of the Las Vegas Strip. I did ride this.
At night, it is best to take taxi rides. Each casino generally has its own show and night club. Each has its own differently themed bars and restaurants. The result is that desireable clubs are often on opposite sides of town from one another [more on nightclubbing here]. The price of a ride from Mandalay Bay's House of Blues to Hard Rock Cafe is well over 10 USD, or about the cost of a ride to the airport.
The other reason to take taxi rides is the weather. temperatures will drop 10-15c. Short sleeves and shorts during the day, give way to a long sleeved shirt, light jacket and jeans at night time. On my last trip in 2004 November, the wind was blowing at 20-30km, enough to knock down my camera and tripod. The evening air temperature was 5c and it was bitter cold.
In the area, there are manmade and natural attractions. In addition to Las Vegas City, nearby are the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and Lake Tahoe.