My 2 cents on getting a beginner telescope.

If you ask 10 different astronomers "what's the best beginner telescope?" you'll get 12 different answers.  There is one consensus however: the best telescope is the one you'll use.
Celestron and Meade are both good brands.
Pretty much any beginner scope will let you get a good look at the moon, see Mars and Venus, see the rings of Saturn (tiny but you can make them out) and see the Galilean moons of Jupiter (again tiny but you can make them out). On a clear night you may also be able to make out banding in Jupiter's atmosphere.
The wider the aperture the more light it collects (sees fainter objects) and the better the resolving power (ability to make out fine detail).
The longer the focal length the more it will magnify.
For photography: the smaller the focal ratio the faster the scope.
I long ago passed on the one I had as a kid but I now own 4 telescopes that I use for different things.
My main observation scope is a Celestron NexStar 130 SLT. It's considered a very good beginner/intermediate scope. The price has gone up since I got mine but it can be found for around $500. I love this scope!
Here is the Celestron's page for this scope:
The scope is pricy because it is on a computerized "goto" mount. You set it up and point it at several bright stars. Once the scope orients itself to the night sky, you just select an object in the night sky and the scope will point itself at the object.
This page:
has a variety of scopes for beginners at all different price ranges.
Celestron's First Scope is well regarded and not very expensive. Many astronomers recommend starting with a scope that is not computerized so the beginner can learn to find objects in the night sky. I think there is some merit to that. When I was young there were no consumer computerized telescopes. However, goto mounts do make life easy!
Here is an article on picking a telescope:
I'd consider the following things:
PriceHow easy it is to set up and take downEase of useStorage: my Nexstar130 plus its mount, tripod and accessories fit into a big Husky Tool Box that I use as a scope case. (see pictures below) It makes it pretty easy to take into and out of the car or outside near the apartment but many smaller scopes have less setup and take up less space.
You can find a lot of info on scopes on Youtube.
Hope this helps.