I recently bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ28 as a gift for someone else, but I had the opportunity to use it extensively for a week, and I must say that it is an *excellent* camera. It has an impressive optical zoom range of 18x, good ergonomics, lots of scene modes (which seems to be what you want) and even a fair degree of manual control if you go down that path in the future. Focusing, menu response, settings etc are quick and responsive (for a P&S). It even has a rudimentary 720p movie recording mode.
Its major weakness is the low light capability, but honestly, this extends to all point and shoot cams. None can match a dslr in this arena.
I never thought I'd like a small Point & Shoot camera, since I use a full blown Pentax K20D DSLR system with really good lenses, yet this little panasonic hugely impressed me. The biggest asset of the FZ28 is its excellent Leica lens which gives beautiful colors and sharpness across the zoom range, with minimal distortion. I never had as much fun using any camera (my K20D included) as I did with the Panny
While it will never replace my K20D for 'serious' hobbyist shooting, I am going to snag one for the holidays as my take-everywhere P&S cam.
Try out the FZ28 once before you make a decision. You won't regret it.