Let me preface this by saying I used to live in the Nola, so maybe my opinions may be a little bit skewed, and I went to school here so I got the inside track! Sometimes I like to go back and pretend I'm a tourist and do all the stupid stuff I never did when I lived there, and sometimes I fall back into going to the same old places that I couldn't live without. The beauty of a lot of the attractions yahoo has listed is that they're all in the same general area, so if you don't have too much of a hangover (try to avoid going all out in NOLA until your last night, because it's a marathon, not a sprint) you can cover a lot of distance in not a lot of time. So, the things I have listed are just a general idea of where I was, what I was doing. Stayed at La Pavilon, which is a pretty classy joint, not too expensive, and is short walk (about a block, if memory serves me correctly) to the French Quarter. Recommendation: if you can afford it, the Soniat House is fantastic, but for people on more of a budget or a business oriented trip, there are plenty of great hotels in New Orleans that won't cost an arm and a leg. The trick to getting a good rate is deceptively simple: just call the hotel and ask if they have any special deals for the week you're in town! This is particularly true in the warmer months when there are less tourists/conventions in town.
If you're like me and you're easily distracted by the all the visual stimulation in New Orleans, come up with a general strategy for the day, and just kind of go with the flow. So check out Decatur St, Jackson Square, The Cabildo (Louisiana History Museum), Pirate's Alley, Cafe du Monde, Royal St, Beauregard House, Old Ursuline Convent (supposedly has vampires), and the general area in the same day. Way too much to name it all, just use your eyes! You'll find plenty of places to eat, antiques shops, architecture, and street musicians in this general area. A block over from Royal is Bourbon, and that needs no description. Be sure to catch one of the many shows or performances that go on in the Jackson Square area. They just kind of happen randomly, so watch for crowds gathering. At night, I hit up Brennan's just to ball out. Expect to spend lots of cash here, but the rest of the night shouldn't be too expensive. After dinner, grab a drink at any of the bars on Bourbon real quick (Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle is recommended or a daiquiri from any of the numerous bars, just for the walk) and make a bee-line to Harrahs to try your luck. If you're winning, great, cash out and celebrate on Bourbon. If you're losing, go drown your sorrows on Bourbon. Good places on the most infamous st. in the country: Pat O'Brien's (where the Hurricane originated), Tropical Isle, Razzoo, Bourbon St. Blues Company...basically just find whatever you're in the mood for. If you're not in the mood to party or get your shoes covered in vomit, try a hotel bar (the carousel bar at Hotel Monteleone is superb) or any of the jazz joints for a classier atmosphere.
Second day I devoted to uptown New Orleans and the garden district, which I feel too many tourists never get around to seeing. It's easy to get locked into the Quarter, especially now that they still haven't fixed the St. Charles streetcar that ran uptown. Head down St. Charles, and Prytania for the majestic architecture. Go as far as Loyola University (where I *barely* earned my BA) on St. Charles and check out Audobon Park across the street, where I spent many a weekend getting a tan and killing six packs, and the zoo is at the far end on Magazine St. In the university district you'll find plenty of dive-bars filled with college kids doing what college kids do, and cheap drinks. Recommmended: the Boot right off of Freret for happy hour and the late-night or any of the places on Maple St. for cheap drinks/catch a ballgame. Make sure to take in the shopping on Magazine, which is also full of bars and restaurants. They call this area "the real" New Orleans, because it's not so tourist-y but has plenty of charm. Find a place to eat, find a place to drink, and once again, there are just too many good places for me to list them all, but this particular weekend I did Dick and Jenny's, which is great because it's good eats, cheap, and the atmosphere is casual but classy. However, as long as you're uptown, be sure to check out the Maple Leaf (on Oak St, surprisingly) or Tipitina's (Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas--pronounced chop-i-too-lis) for a show.
[EDIT 1/11/08] Lagniappe (look it up!): The Maple Leaf is great, because it's right next to Jacques-Imos (locals will pronounce it something like Jock-ehmoes). When you're waiting for a table at Jacques, because you will on a weekend! you can set up shop at the Maple Leaf next door and drink some Abitas, the local beer--go with the amber, which is the standard, the purple haze is a nice and light wheat beer with hints of berry, and Turbodog is not for someone who doesn't enjoy a beer that packs a punch. The Leaf won't start getting busy until after 9, when the shows begin. Expect to pay a $10 cover, but here's the deal: the people at the door are usually negotiable. Tell them you're from out of town, and you heard that the Leaf is the best place to hear local music. They'll usually let ya in for less, or sometimes nothing at all (tell em I sent ya! Actually, let's keep it our little secret). It's not far from the truth either to say it's one of the best venues in town for some real, New Orleans music. Check the list for bands like Rebirth, who frequently play there (I want to say Tuesday nights when they're not on tour), and blend the exuberance of the marching bands you'd see during Mardi Gras with hip-hop. The shows are more like a big ol' party, with everybody drinking, dancing (poorly!), doing whatcha wanna. I would really recommend checking this out because they have kind of an agreement with Jacques-Imo's next door, where you tell the host/hostess that you'll be at the Maple Leaf, and they'll come find you if it's not ridiculously packed.
I guess that's about all I got, but make sure you take a boat out into the swamp and see some of the wildlife. It's very beautiful, relaxing, and should you be so inclined you can take a bus from any of the hotels and party the entire time with the rest of the crew headin' out there. I'm not sure how I feel about people profiting off the destruction of the Big K but I know there is a lot of curiousity for some as to what the devastation looks like, and I would say go see it for yourself. They have guided tours, but if you really want to see what it looks like get a cab and look around. Katrina is everywhere in this city. Everybody has a story to tell, and it's important that story gets out--so talk to people! Everybody's friendly and loves to talk. Also, it's important these folks don't get forgotten after all they've been through. I was fortunate enough to only get a little bit of damage, but I got lucky. So help out by going down, having a good time, and seeing for yourself that this is one city that we can't let go.
Enjoy, and Peace!