5 unexpected places you need to visit in 2018

Of the many resolutions we make at the start of every year, traveling more usually tops the list. But the world is a big, big place. And most of us operate on limited budgets.

So, where to go and what to see? "Rough Guide" author and Conde Nast Traveler contributor Mark Ellwood is here to help you navigate the friendly skies (and highways and rails). And his choices are decidedly offbeat, so forget any jaunts to Hollywood or the Big Apple. How about the capital of Idaho for a change? And don't forget to plan ahead before hitting the road.

Malta

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The island country of Malta, a mashup of Sicily, North Africa and colonial England, was all over our Instagram feeds this year, as our most globe-trotting friends sought out its superlative scuba diving sites and ornate baroque architecture (seriously, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, in the capital of Valletta, is as gilded as it gets). Expect the world to double down on Malta coverage next year when the cobbled streets of the more than 450-year-old capital city, designated a European Capital of Culture in 2018, erupt in celebration. We’d plan around Valletta’s International Baroque Festival, held every January since 2013, with classical performances staged in — what else? — some of Valletta’s best baroque venues. Don’t leave without trying the national dish of stuffat tal-fenek, a rabbit stew, or pastizzi, a fluffy pastry stuffed with ricotta cheese or a paste of peas.

Best places to go in 2018: Nashville, New Orleans, Malta and more

    Our Hotel Pick: The Phoenicia

    To learn more about traveling to Malta, check out the Valetta section of TripAdvisor. It has information on everything from hotels to restaurants to things to do.

    Nashville, Tennessee

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    If you love music, this town will hit all the right notes. This January, Music City gains a funky new venue in the shape of the 5,000-square-foot, 300-person-capacity Analog complex inside the Hutton Hotel. Carved out of the hotel's former parking garage, the project also features two "writers' rooms" for creatives, named after Dierks Bentley and Ryan Tedder, who’s written smashes for Taylor Swift and Adele, among others. It doesn’t stop there: Live music behemoth AEG has announced plans to take over the $1 billion Nashville Yards redevelopment in the next two years, anchored by two more venues, a 4,000-seater and a smaller 600-person cabaret space. Wondering where else to eat in Nashville? Take some tips from none other than Anthony Bourdain.

    Our Hotel Pick: The Hutton

    For more information on traveling to Nashville, including family-friendly activities and ways to save, visit this page on TripAdvisor.

    New Orleans, Louisiana

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    There are so many reasons to have New Orleans on your to-do list every year: Mardi Gras in February, Jazz Fest in April and Tales of the Cocktail in July. But this year, we’re heading south for the city's 300th anniversary and all its accompanying fun. We'll bounce between our favorite restaurants and bars — Herbsaint, Seaworthy, Bacchanal and classic Arnaud’s French 75 — and then eat and drink some more, because if you’re not eating, you’re talking about where to eat next. Plus, the city’s sculpture gardens, galleries and activist Brandan Odums' 35,000-square-foot portrait gallery warehouse, Studio Be, will give you more than enough to do in a weekend. It just means you’ll have to plan two trips to the Big Easy this year.

    Our Hotel Pick: Nopsi

    To compare hotel prices, book flights and make dinner reservations, learn more here.

    Minneapolis, Minnesota

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    Ask anyone who lives in Minneapolis why they love it, and they'll quickly rattle off an impressive list of restaurants, theaters and natural attributes. This winter, the open secret of a city gets put firmly under the spotlight with the arrival of Super Bowl LII, but there are a few reasons to visit long after football has come and gone. Count 'em: the best parks system in the whole country, as determined by the Trust for Public Land's 2017 ParkScore Index; an exciting food scene with 13 James Beard Award semifinalists; Prince's Paisley Park Museum, which opened last year in nearby Chanhassen; and the quietest place on earth. Even better news? It's easier than ever to get to the Midwest city, with 28 new nonstop routes added in the last two years.

    Hotel: Le Meridien Chambers

    For more information on things to do in Minneapolis, from visiting the Mall of America to swimming in one of the 22 lakes within city limits, visit TripAdvisor.

    Boise, Idaho

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    It has a new 110-room boutique hotel that opened downtown, helmed by a James Beard Award-winning chef, plus a great local brewery and a lovely tasting room for wine, Coiled Wines (yep, there’s wine from Idaho). Even better, getting there is much easier than it used to be. And the Basque culture there is amazing: it has the world’s largest expat community of Basques, apparently, which has made chorizo a staple on most menus and meant that there’s a Basque district downtown.

    Hotel: Inn at 500

    With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, there's so much to do in Boise. Learn more about this historic city on Tripadvisor.

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