-- Last Updated: Apr-02-13 8:13 PM EST --
Sit on top kayak comes to my mind first. For you and a 3 year old, a decent sized single could work. When they get larger, maybe a double would be better. They do come with rudders. (Edit - some models can have rudders, but often are optional)
Canoes are great for carrying gear and such. But for recreation use, one concern that comes to my mind is safety in conditions. You said gulf coast, so to me that means open water. I'd personally go with a SOT over a canoe for this.
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