@Slappy Doo Hoo,
It bothers me a bit that people whose only experience with Mexico is the nightly news develop such a strong opinion of what life is like there, that they won't listen to people who have actually been there.
On my last trip I was in Torreon (a gritty working class city) and Monterrey (a thriving business center). I was never offered drugs or sex in either place. In fact, when I arrived at the Monterrey bus terminal, which happens to be in a very shady part of town-- there were prostitutes there, but none of them even said a word to me (should I be offended?). There is little risk to a smart traveler-- you just walk with purpose through these areas.
In Torreon, there was a old-time carnival in the park at the center of the city which was teaming with kids. Mija fully enjoyed the street performers and the rides. At night they play music and couples of all ages come out to dance under the stars. The really good food is in little house-front cafes in the neighborhoods. Here is where the fact I understand the language and have family really helps-- I probably wouldn't recommend that a naive traveler venture into the neighborhoods alone... but the city center is quite safe (if you don't do anything blatantly stupid).
There is some military/police presence in Torreon-- it is a little eerie to see men with assault rifles on the back of army trucks driving through town (although I have experienced much more of this in both Egypt and Guatemala). Still people live their lives just fine, and if you stay away from trouble, it stays away from you.
Monterrey is a fully modern city-- the business center would be familiar to any American. There are shops and museums wealthy neighborhoods and a Sesame Street (Plaza Sesamo) theme park. The mall there (complete with Starbucks) is eerily similar to Copley Square.
In Monterrey, security is great. There is quite a bit of wealth in the city... and wealthy people always have a way of making sure that things are secure. The city is full of families, business-people, workers tourists all of whom live pretty normal lives.