Au nanoparticles deposited on a metallic film act as nanoantenna receivers and transmitters for the coupling of free-space radiation into, and out of, 2D surface plasmons. Nanosteps, sub-10-nm gaps between metallic films of differing thickness, can also launch and detect surface plasmons. Here we use both types of structures to locally launch propagating surface plasmon waves and probe their properties. Nanoparticle-launched surface plasmons emerge as two lobes of nominally 90 degree angular width, propagating along the direction of incident polarization. Alternatively, plasmons can be launched unidirectionally, by asymmetric illumination of a nanoparticle receiver.