I suggest you go to the photo store and hold a few cameras. See which one you like. Ask the salesperson questions, and maybe come back with a list to get some feedback on.
Also, be very firm about your maximum price, and how much you want to learn about your camera. Taking specialized pictures requires you learn how to set your camera appropriately, and it often requires special equipment for each type of environment you like to shoot.
All that said, I'd suggest the Sony DSC-H2. It gets good reviews, is very flexible, and has excellent image quality.