When shopping for an acoustic guitar, you'll generally see three types: all-solid-wood construction, laminated back and sides with a solid wood top, and all-laminate construction. How do you know what to get?
An all-solid-wood guitar will give you the richest sound and most volume, because solid wood is not as stiff and can vibrate more. It is also the most expensive, and is the most vulnerable to temperature and humidity changes.
All-laminate means that the top, back and sides are made of multiple layers of wood glued together, often with an attractive top “veneer” layer. An all-laminate guitar will not give you as loud or as rich a sound, but it is pretty inexpensive and not nearly as finicky about how you treat it. As in...this is a good choice to take to the beach, or stow in the cargo area of a plane.
A laminate guitar with a solid top is a good middle ground for general use, because the air movement necessary for a bigger sound comes from the top, while the sides and back can be more rigid. With this construction you can also get a reasonably-priced guitar that looks “cool”, with more exotic wood species used as the veneer layer that would be ridiculously expensive to use otherwise.
The bottom line? If you're only going to have one acoustic guitar, go for one that at least has a solid top.
But then again, why in the world would you only have ONE guitar???