This paper reports the feasibility of using an ultrasonic waveguide sensor for distributed temperature measurement in two different case studies, that is: 1) skin temperature of a solid structure (pipe) and 2) fluid (water). This technique improves upon the conventional multiple thermocouples approach for multi-level temperature measurements. The range of temperatures is from room temperature to maximum utility temperature for the two case studies (85 °C for water and 200 °C for pipe). Using the interaction of the propagating ultrasonic waves in a thin rodlike waveguide with intentionally designed geometric discontinuities (bends, axisymmetric, non-axisymmetric notches, and so on), the localized information on the temperature is extracted. An ultrasonic technique for accurate temperature measurement by tracking the time-of-flight of reflected guided wave modes from appropriately spaced notch reflectors is therefore proposed here, while using the reflection from a bend is used as a reference. Using a finite element model approach, the notch size and/or the bend radius were selected in order to reduce mode conversion effects as well as to obtain uniform amplitudes of the reflected signals from these designed discontinuities. The numerical results were experimentally validated for the L(0,1) wave mode using a stainless steel waveguide sensor. This paper is of interest to industrial applications including mould cooling jacket temperature monitoring during the steel manufacturing process as well as for furnace wall temperature measurements in petrochemical industries. © 2001-2012 IEEE.