I know when light strikes an object it excites electrons into higher energy states. I know thermal energy is basically just a lot of atomic and molecular kinetic energy. Does the excitation of the electron when struck by light cause a molecule to vibrate or make atoms move faster?
When light hits an object, different things can happen. The light can be reflected or absorbed. When visible light is absorbed, it will usually excite electronic states.
This excitation typically does not last long. As Poutnik mentioned in the comments, the excitation energy can dissipate in the form of vibration, rotation or translation. It can also be emitted or partially emitted, either quickly (fluorescence) or slowly (phosphorescence). The energy can be transferred to another electron (exciton transfer) or result in breaking a bond (photochemistry).
When the energy ends up as thermal energy, the mechanism of dissipation is described as coupling (e.g. vibrionic coupling) or non-radiative decay. I am not aware of a simple conceptual explanation of how this happens other than a coupled oscillator.