To travel is to search for a meaningful experience in a new place. What better way to dive into Lake Tahoe's restaurants, bars, beaches, ski resorts and more than under the guidance of those who know it best? Below are a few suggestions for travelers who want an authentic visit.

1) Check out the local shops

You can find everything from hot sauce to clothes, whiskey to sunscreen that's manufactured or created in Lake Tahoe. All of the towns around the lake have a bevy of small businesses that are owned and operated by locals. These stores often carry items that are locally made. These unique products are what shape the character of the area.

Need some ideas? Check out Gaialicious in South Lake Tahoe for fair-trade jewelry and locally made sauves. On the North Shore, stop in at The Potlatch for carvings and clothing from TahoeMade attire. In Tahoe City, go to Alpenglow for all your outdoors needs and make sure to grab a Tahoe Trailbar while you're there.

2) Try the small restaurants

Lake Tahoe isn't an international dining destination, but the small restaurants of the area have developed a varied cuisine that we're proud to call our own. This ski and sun menu includes loaded burgers, giant burritos, fresh salads and hearty sandwiches. Thai to Italian, there are tons of ethnic options, too.

A few of Lake Tahoe's renowned small restaurants include South Lake Tahoe's Artemis, Incline Village's T's Rotisserie, and Tahoe City's Spoon. Don't believe me? Check out their Yelp reviews.

3) Come on a weekday

It's a well-known fact the Basin fills up on Fridays and empties on Sundays. If you want to feel like you have the lake all to yourself, try a midweek stay. Many of the locals live for this quiet time between the crowds.

It can be cheaper, too. A lot of hotels, restaurants and ski resorts have weekday deals that are long gone by the weekend. For example, Mount Rose has "Two-fer Tuesdays," two lift tickets for the price of one.

4) Get out of the car

Sure, driving around the lake is a pretty nice way to spend the afternoon, but there are countless other fun things to do in Lake Tahoe that don't involve traffic, speed limits and exhaust.

Bike trails are very accessible throughout the area and bike rentals are plentiful. The hiking, even right out of town, is beautiful. If you really need to get somewhere, public transportation has improved significantly. Most ski resorts have shuttles that are easy to catch and usually don't fill up.

5) Stay longer

Quick trips never do a location justice, especially one as expansive and diverse as Lake Tahoe. Even an extra day can add a lot. An easy suggestion for first timers to the area is to take a whole day to see each side of the lake: north, west, south and east.

Every side of the lake has special attractions and its own character. D.L. Bliss and Sand Harbor are vastly different, as are Kings Beach and South Lake Tahoe. You're sure to find an aspect of the area that suits your style, if you take the time to explore all of them.

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