I'm looking for a bike for my wife. She hasn't ridden since she was a teenager and says she hates riding because bike seats are always too uncomfortable. I do not believe she's ever tried anything other than cheap Walmart bikes with a $5 gel seat pad (and probably never used padded shorts). So the top priority for this is going to be comfort, otherwise I'll never get her to use the thing. Even if it is comfortable enough. she may not use the bike much more than a few times a year so I don't want to spend much more than about $300-$400. She's 5ft 2" tall. Probably would be used only on paved roads & sidewalks and just recreation/fitness. Don't care much about speed or offroading.
I know our best bet will be to go to some LBS and try some options and get recommendations, but based on the info I provided what do you guys think we should look at?