Lodging for us was a key element of our entire trip. We knew that we wanted to be close to cool spot as well as to public transportation. The caveat is, that we didn't want to do a hostel and didn't want a crazy party atmosphere. Our stay at La Vie En Rose was perfect for what we were looking for.
Decor was beautiful and it felt both quiet and safe. The owner of the property greeted us warmly and was extremely helpful with recommendations for nearby must see attractions, restaurants, and shopping.
The place was comfortable and suited our needs for our time in Amsterdam. One thing to consider, if you have other friends in town, it is uncouth to bring any one up into the apartment and only 2 people are allowed to stay per apartment (there were 2 total apartments in the building in addition to the owners who live on the top floor). Great safety measure because of the high traffic location, but kind of annoying if you are traveling with a group and just want to have someone pop in briefly.
One of my favorite things believe it or not, was taking the canal tour. It was a really great and affordable way for getting a good lay of the city in a really beautiful scenic way. You can do a full day pass which offers a hop on hop off option if you want to get out and explore some touristy sights.
Other than that, my biggest suggestion is to get to know other locals or people visiting! Go out to local spots, bars, cafes, and coffee shops. Don't be afraid to walk around and explore even if you only speak English. Living in a downtown urban environment, my experience was that no matter what time of day it was, I never had a feeling of being unsafe. Just stay aware of your environment and you'll be fine!