Oh, one thing I noticed, especially at Rock Center, the people who were wearing skating dresses or elaborate rink wear (in effect, shouting "I am a SKATER") weren't very good. The better skaters were wearing jeans and being very casual about the fact that they could skate paragraph loops around everyone else. So I'd advise dressing "down" if you go, unless you really want people people staring at you.
I had forgotten about people dressing up at Rock Ctr. It HAS been a long time since I skated there.
If you don't mind getting up early, there's a daily freestyle/ice dance session at Wollman Rink. It's in Central Park (62 or 63rd Street park entrance) and while you do have to walk through the park to get there, you can see the rink from the path and there are lots of people in the park walking their dogs. The session starts at 7:00ish, or daybreak; whichever comes first. They do a good job cleaning the ice.
If that's not your cup of tea, there is always Chelsea Piers (23rd & 12th). Take the bus ($2.25 coins or MetroCard) rather than a cab because you'll need the money for the session. It's a lovely facility, but rather expensive. But then again, it is Manhattan. The ice is maintained very well (I know all the Zamboni drivers - nice guys) mostly because someone will complain if it isn't. FYI: there are freestyle sessions all morning until about 12:30.
Don't know how much you know about traveling through NY, but if you aren't opposed to taking a bit of a trip, you could skate at City Ice Pavilion. I don't really know their schedule (because they keep eliminating their evening freestyle sessions!
) but I think they have morning/afternoon sessions. Take the #7 train from Grand Central Station or Times Square (depending on whether you're on the east or west side) to 33rd & Rawson. If you need further directions, send me a PM.
Or if you have access to a car, you can go to World Ice. Take the Grand Central Parkway to Exit 9P and follow the path through the park to the HUGE grey building that houses a rink AND a pool.
All of these rinks do an excellent job of maintaining the ice. The two rinks in Queens (City Ice and World Ice) are a bit cheaper, but you do have to travel to get to them. I've been told Hackensack is an easy rink to get to, but I beg to differ having gone out there to watch North Atlantics.
The people in most of the rinks are pleasant. If you skate a World Ice freestyle, the parents are so standoffish you would do best to ignore them. I do. Also, at World Ice, if you're used to the normal rules for a session (spin in the center, jump in the corners) be forewarned; you'll be the only person doing that. I learned that the hard way.
Welcome again to NYC. Please don't walk 3 people across (2 max); the sidewalks aren't that wide.