Simon Calder: Romantic tales of America's airports

 

Will Rogers World may sound like a theme park dedicated to the cowboy celebrity, but it is actually an airport: a gateway to Oklahoma City. When you touch down, doff your Stetson to the statue of the man who had a foot in both stirrups – the Wild West and Hollywood – then track down the fascinating National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Before your flight home, the Route 66 Grille is waiting airside to provide a last taste of the city celebrated in song as "oh so pretty".

America gave the world aviation, and the US gave airports personality long before Liverpool added John Lennon to its name. Oklahoma City's Californian cowboy counterpart is Orange County, named after John Wayne – with a statue of the big man in front of an even larger Stars and Stripes flag.

Just up the coast, LAX is more Jetsons than Stetsons. New arrivals to Los Angeles may be forgiven for imagining that the previous touchdown was a flying saucer: the four legs of the Theme Building (below) straddle the heart of the airport. Architecture and aviation coalesce magnificently in the 1961 structure.

Land at New Mexico's state capital, Santa Fe, and adobe touches prepare you for exploring the city's Native American and early European heritage. At Las Vegas, the "slots" are waiting as soon as you step from the aircraft jetway in true entertainment-capital-of-the-world style.

Get the best first impression by planning your approach. Flying to New York JFK? Pack light, then take a cab or Subway towards Manhattan but stop just short and walk across Brooklyn Bridge. Bound for Boston? Take a Water Taxi in from the airport: $10 and 10 minutes takes you to the heart of the city where the American dream was born.

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