I'm trying to narrow down bike selection and have found myself looking at two categories. A very hybrid style road/trail bike vs. a straight urban style bike. My use of this bike will be recreational and for light exercise. I'll mostly be riding on surface roads and through parks, most of which have nicely groomed trails. I will also be pulling my daugther behind me at times (she's 2 1/2) and we may take trips out to the beach to ride around there.
I realize that manufacturers and people have varying definitions of these styles, so here is what I am looking at in these categories. These brands have been chosen due to them being available across 2 different bike shops within < 3 miles from my home.
Road/Trail: Specialized Crosstrail series, Gary Fisher Kaitai/Utopia/Montare
Urban Style: Trek FX series, Specialized Sirrus series
Price wise, I'm willing to go all the way up to $1000, but my target has been the $500 range. I've been told that doubling my original budget of $500 and going to $1000 gets me 3x the bike for 2x the money, which is why I would entertain spending this much.
Many people have told me the road/trail hybrids don't do either thing well, and I should go with something oriented more for road use or more for trail use. Most of my use seems more road oriented, but the reason I have been looking at road/trail hybrids is because of the "what if". As in, what if I find a local park that has some kind of "offroad kiddy" type trail. Nothing heavily groomed, light rises/falls, no jumps, etc. Just something a little more fun than casual riding. But, on the flip side, I don't want to totally compromise quality just for the possible what if situation, because that situation may never come, it's an unknown.
I'm looking for opinions on which style people think I should focus on and why they think so. It will help me learn more about these categories. Additionally, I'm looking for advice on specific bike selection and education on why one brand may be better than the other, particularly in regards to the $500 vs $1000 budget ranges.