The bright, rich, blue, globular-like cluster NGC 1856 is found to be young, with an age estimated from its main-sequence stars to be 80 (+ or - 30) million years. Reddening is found to be E(B-V) = 0.18 + or - 0.05. The cluster contains about 25 red giants with colors that are consistent with a mild heavy-element depletion with respect to the Galaxy. A carbon star, BMB 87, is probably a member; it has V = 16.35 and B-V = + 2.0. There are two previously known Cepheids and two new probable Cepheids among the 10 variable star candidates found in the cluster. The Cepheids and probable Cepheids fall in the instability strip near the three crossings of the adopted evolutionary track of the cluster.