www.iamsterdam.com > the tourist info website about Amsterdam, what's on, how to plan your trip, museums, nightlife, festivals, markets, public transport, etc etc.
And I recommend you borrow an Amsterdam guidebook from the library (or buy one), it answers all your questions and more. For example TimeOut, Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, 100% Amsterdam, Fodors or which ever takes tour fancy.
Some also have nice suggested walks. Many guidebooks have handy maps and tell you all about what the areas are like, places of interest, museums, nice bars, the coffeeshop/ drugs situation, red light district (and how to avoid it), cost, dangers (getting hit by bikes, pickpocketing), history, Dutch mentality and much more.
Personally I'd recommend you look for an apartment or hotel in De Jordaan or canal belt, and get around on foot and by public transport. Amsterdam is compact. And a nightmare to drive a car in if you're not used to it, both traffic-wise and cost-wise. Trams, buses, metros and even ferries will take you everywhere. Or splurge on a taxi if you feel like it but they are quite pricey.
Enjoy your preparations! And feel free to come back with more specific questions.
Edited: 7:24 pm, August 13, 2013