We saved some money in The Big Easy by renting an apartment with our friends, who also have young children. The apartment was dusty but roomy and affordable; it was located within a block of the Garden District (which consists of gorgeous Southern mansions). We walked a lot. We prepared the majority of our meals at home; in fact, we went out to eat only twice (once to Gordon Biersch near the aquarium, and once to a fantastic Creole-Mexican joint called Juan's Flying Burrito). On New Year's Eve, we stayed in, made dinner, and toasted with a glass of (inexpensive) wine.
I absolutely loved New Orleans, more than I was expecting to. It now ranks with San Francisco, CA and Wilmington, NC as one of my favorite U.S. cities. New Orleans is gritty, artistic, mysterious, a little dangerous, multicultural, magical, and beautifully spooky. I feel like I'd need to visit two or three more times to get the complete NOLA vibe. While we were there, I had the sense that we were in a completely different country. Loved that!