"You watch a movie filmed in New Orleans and say things like, "Dere ain't no way they can run out of a cemetery right on to Bourbon Street ... and don't call me 'Cher.'" ~From You Know You're From New Orleans If..
From personal experience, it is quite easy to get lost. The heart of the city is the French Quarter. An easy way to remember the streets is to look at its history. Scotsman John Law proposed an idea to the Duc d'Orleans in France during a card game: the city of New Orleans. He said to honor the Duc, the longest running and main street would be named Orleans. Since Toulouse and Dumaine (the Duc's family members whom he despised) had also put in money to build the city, these two were named after streets. So, to "protect" Orleans from his family, Law used St. Ann and St. Peter to serve as a buffer between these streets. To add extra buffers, then came St. Louis Street and St. Philip Street. Next, a royal and powerful family of France was named the Bourbons, where Bourbon Street got its name from. The Duc d'Orleans' son's title was the Duc of Chartres. Decatur was known as Levee Street since it was close to the River. The street bordering the French Quarter like a castle's ramparts is Rampart Street. Esplanade Street was where the settlement's soldiers would march and drill. Finally, Canal Street was where a canal was going to be placed, but the plan was never carried out.
The Central Business District, or CBD, is to the left across Canal Street. The CDB has the Crescent City Connection, the Superdome, and its major buildings. Canal Street is where new bright-red streetcars run up and down. By going down St. Charles Avenue, a street to the left of Canal, you are in the Garden District.
Back in the early days of foundation, the mighty Creoles lived in luxurious homes in the lush Garden District. The Creoles believed they were from the thigh of Jupiter, and were gods on earth who danced at masquerades all night, and slept all day. Overall, the Garden District is where you'll find many illustrious mansions with names like Camp, Catholic-related names, Magazine, Barone, and even the hard-to-pronounce Tchopitoulas (chop-it-too-las). Also, you can tell you're close to the river when you run into names of the Nine Muses like Euterpe, Terpsichore, Melpomene, Erato, and so on.
By taking Esplanade Street (on the right side of the French Quarter), you'll travel into Mid-City and find City Park. Across from City Park is Delgado Community College and (the best burger joint) Bud's Broiler. Farther west would bring you to the Faubourg Treme. In City Park is the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, which is a must-see.
If you go south from Mid-City towards Bywater and Chalmette, you'll be in the Faubourg Marigny. Named after Bernard Marigny, he began a "suburb" of French gentlemen and their mistresses to live with in their children during the French tradition of placage, taking on a woman of color as a mistress. Now, the Marigny is a colorful place with a bohemian flare. Further south, you'll enter into the small town of Chalmette.