As an amateur photographer, a lot of the questions I get about my photos is in regards to how my images end up looking a 'certain way'. The correct answer is almost always a good base image, and then some excellent post-processing and editing. My typical workflow consists of shooting in Raw, editing in Photo Raw, and then doing any finishing touches in Photoshop.
A lot of folks will tell you to use Lightroom instead of Camera Raw, and that's totally an option. To me, however, Lightroom just adds another Adobe product to my slate that I don't necessarily need. Most semi-serious hobbyist photographers can afford the $20/month fee that Photoshop brings, but if you add Lightroom to the mix, that takes your cost up to $40/month which is a bit much for anybody who isn't doing this either professionally or on a very dedicated level. So learn how to use Camera Raw and Photoshop, do the $20/month thing if you really want awesome photos, and go from there.
Here are some examples of my photography before and after editing and post-processing.